Last week, it was announced that Atlanta Falcons team owner Arthur Blank was making a $200 million donation to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta the single largest naming gift to a freestanding pediatric hospital. The Arthur M. Blank Hospital, the largest healthcare project ever in the history of Georgia, is expected to open its doors in 2025. An impactful cause that will help families in the Atlanta community for generations.
Today, it was announced that The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, through the awarding of a $20 million legacy grant, is establishing the Arthur M. Blank Center for Stuttering Education and Research at the University of Texas at Austin, Moody College of Communication. The Blank Center, founded and led by Dr. Courtney Byrd, will advance understanding about the nature and effective treatment of stuttering, globally scale evidence-based programming to treat children, teenagers and adults, and create a pipeline of expert clinicians and researchers to make quality, effective treatment accessible to all people.
We're honored to announce a $20M grant for The Arthur M. Blank Center for Stuttering Education and Research at @UTexasMoody. Founded by Dr. Courtney Byrd, this transformational work will empower people around the word who stutter to dream, speak, live. pic.twitter.com/l5iVX9lIWL— Arthur Blank Foundation (@BlankFoundation) October 19, 2020
“The moment I met Dr. Byrd, I was immediately struck by her intellect and her life-long commitment to advancing the field of stuttering, which she translated into extraordinary proposals that captured her vision to meaningfully impact the stuttering community in the United States and beyond,” Blank said. “Through her impressive research and dedicated practice towards stuttering, I know she will change the world in this area and help as many human beings as she possibly can. She is the perfect person to lead the charge because she’s hard-wired now in her beliefs, and you see it in her results, the participants, the clinical work that she’s doing, the research, the education, all of which we will be connected to through the establishment of this center.”
Stuttering has genetically been part of Blank’s family for several generations. He, too, is a person who stutters who previously attempted treatment to improve fluency. According to the press release, Byrd and her clinical treatment team and undergraduate- and graduate-level researchers have served more than 1,500 children, teenagers and adults who stutter. With the establishment of the Blank Center, an increase in the number of persons served annually will increase, as well as students and clinicians trained to serve people who stutter. During the next decade, satellite centers will be established nationally, and Byrd’s signature intensive treatment program, Camp Dream. Speak. Live., will be launched in 10 new countries.
“Defining communication by how fluent you are doesn’t get at the freedom — the freeing of the inner person, the inner soul, the inner spirit, the inner mind, the intellect of what each person has to say and feel,” Blank said.
You have to admire, as I do, Blank’s values in giving back to communities and funding impactful institutions. This is beyond football and sports in general. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and more important, helping as numerous families will benefit from the two donations mentioned above. In 2016, Blank donated $100,00 to the Gleason Initiative and in 2020 announced that he was donating $300,000 and the personal proceeds from his memoir Good Company to The National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
“There are few things in life that bring a greater sense of satisfaction and purpose than the act of giving, Blank writes in his book. “In this sense, you always get more than you give. And giving is infectious—the more you do it, the more you want to do it.”