A mother's love: Stuttering treatment creates unbreakable bond between mother and son

MOTHER'S DAY FEATURE: Thanks to his mom, Russell Ray is no longer defined by his speech challenges

Amanda McCarthy - 11 May 2018

Mother's Day-the one day a year dedicated to celebrating the support and love our mothers provide us day in and day out.

But Russell Ray has chosen to celebrate his mother much more than just one day a year.

In 2005, at the young age of four, Russell began to develop abnormal speech patterns. It wasn't until he was eight-years-old that he and his mother noticed something wasn't quite right.

Russell had a stutter. Living in a small town, there were little supports for challenges such as this, which meant there was nowhere or no one for the family to turn to, except the school speech therapist. But the therapy wasn't consistent and didn't seem to be helping like they had hoped.

As the stuttering began to affect different aspects of Russell's life, his mother, June Ray, took matters into her own hands.

"My mother was the one who decided that we needed to find a solution," said Russell. "So she began with research."

That's when June found the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR).

"My mother did all of the work and had all of the ambition needed to get me into the right place," said Russell. "She pulled out every stop and made HUGE sacrifices to make it happen."

While Russell's mother was at the forefront of the operation to tackle his stutter, it became a much bigger effort.

"It really affected and included our whole family," said Russell. "Our neighbours even let us use their only car because ours was not reliable enough to make the 11-hour drive from our home to Edmonton at the time."

June navigated the financial, logistical, and transport-related obstacles-but it's her son, she insists, who is the real star.

"Plain and simple, my son is my hero," said June. "His strength and determination is admirable. When you see his struggles and his unwillingness to surrender to adversity,-his ability to rise above it and also embrace it-it's just so amazing to be his mother and to watch him accomplish this."

Now, Russell is able to be confident in his speech, taking on anything that comes his way.

"The level of fluency I've achieved is a nice bonus to the world-class experience and care you receive from ISTAR. I'm glad I got to receive treatment at a facility that had such a positive impact on my life," said Russell.

Treatment that came about all thanks to a mother's love and determination.

"I never could have found the speech success that I have if it wasn't for my mother. We are very close, and my stuttering journey played a big role in building our bond. I wouldn't trade it for the world."