Before leaving Nantucket on Sunday, President Joe Biden provided some words of encouragement to a young girl who has struggled with a stutter.
After 9-year-old Avery Nigrelli told the president about her stutter, Biden put his hands on her shoulders and said he dealt with the same thing and still became president of the United States.
“I promise you, it’ll go away if you just keep at it, OK?” he said.
Avery was all smiles and gave Biden a hug.
“Thank you, Mr. President,” she said.
Avery and her family live in Weston and also have a home on Nantucket. When they heard the presidential motorcade would be going by their home Sunday, they walked to the end of their driveway to wave to the president. But they weren’t expecting Biden to stop and talk with them.
“I went up to him and gave him a big hug,” Avery said in a phone interview with the Globe. “And then I told him, ‘Hey, Mr. President, I have something that you have. We have something in common.’ And I told him that I have a stutter just like him. And then he starts talking to me about it.”
Avery said she’ll never forget the advice Biden gave her on how to cope with her stutter.
“First he told me, ‘the way I handle stuttering, I just try to get out the word, and then if that doesn’t work, I take a deep breath and try again ,’” she said. “And then another thing he told me, ‘if you just stick with the stutter, it will let you be.’ That was really helpful for me.”
Avery’s mother, Jessica Gifford Nigrelli, said hearing encouragement from the president made a world of difference in her daughter’s confidence.
“I had tears in my eyes when he was talking with her,”Gifford Nigrelli, said. “It was just the most beautiful moment.”
Luckily Gifford Nigrelli had her phone to capture the touching conversation between her daughter and the president. She then posted photos and video of their encounter on Facebook.
Jessica said Biden reached out to extend an invitation for her family to visit him at the Oval Office in the White House. He also said he would send Avery a copy of one of his speeches.
“He was asking all about the family and more about her [Avery], really wanting to understand what she’s been through,” Gifford Nigrelli said. “And you know, he said ‘I want to spend time with her. I don’t want to just have five minutes for a photo-op in the Oval Office. I want to have lunch with her in my dining room.’ It’s just an amazing show of humanity.”
The family is still working to arrange a date to meet with Biden a second time, Gifford Nigrelli said.
“She is standing taller because of this experience, as she said that night, ‘Well, I’ll never feel the same way about my stutter again.’” Gifford Nigrelli said. “I loved when he said to her, ‘it’ll let you be,’ like, she has a stutter. It doesn’t have her. So I think this experience has empowered her in an incredible way.”
Avery is the second child from New England to connect with the president over his stutter, after 13-year-old Brayden Harrington from Boscawen, N.H., bonded with Biden on the campaign trail earlier this year.
Avery is the niece of Rufus Gifford, a former ambassador who’s been nominated to become chief of protocol at the US State Department. Gifford wasn’t there on Sunday but he shared the special moment by posting the video on Twitter.
“My amazing niece and goddaughter Avery has struggled with a stutter much of her life,” Gifford tweeted. “She was just told by a guy who knows a little something about it that she can be anything she wants to in this world. A day she will never ever forget. Thank you sir.”
As of Tuesday, the video had been viewed over 2.2 million times on Twitter.
My amazing niece and goddaughter Avery has struggled with a stutter much of her life.— Rufus Gifford (@rufusgifford) November 28, 2021
She was just told by a guy who knows a little something about it that she can be anything she wants to in this world.
A day she will never ever forget.
Thank you sir. ❤️🇺🇸❤️ pic.twitter.com/RDP5Y0FfTa