“Don’s Voice” is a heartwarming look at the true story of Don and Lorraine Moir, a farm family debilitated by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Don and Lorraine married in 1989. Six years and three children later, Don was diagnosed with the progressive neurodegenerative disease also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Week by week, Don lost more of his motor-neurological functions. Then on May 21, 1999, Don was fitted with a ventilator. He hasn’t spoken since.
Don communicates via a letter board, a simple sheet of paper with the alphabet divided into quadrants. Letter-by-letter, word-by-word, the disease has forced Don to communicate silently through others for over a decade.
After hearing Not Impossible Founder Mick Ebeling on the radio, Lorraine contacted Not Impossible to help create a digital solution for her husband. The Not Impossible team, led by volunteer Javed Gangjee, utilized its know-how, the HP x360 Convertible PC and SpeakYourMind Foundationsoftware to develop a simple interface that replicated Don’s paper letter board. Don was now able to access a new world of technology and communication for the first time since being diagnosed.
Through this simple technology, Don independently wrote a love letter to his wife and was able to audibly say “I love you, Lorraine” for the first time in 15 years (video above).
“We hope ‘Don’s Voice’ will inspire and remind others to tell their loved ones they love them and to use the amazing technology at our disposal to connect with each other rather than disconnect,” Ebeling says. “In the midst of busy schedules and the madness of everyday life — sometimes you just need a reminder to #VoiceYourLove to those you care about most.”
This Valentines Day, use your tech to #VoiceYourLove. #bendtherules
Words are overrated. At The Mighty, we know there are so many ways to express yourself without speaking. We wanted to know how your children and loved ones say “I love you” nonverbally, so we asked our readers to share some of their stories.
Here’s what you had to say:
1. “He used to take my face in his hands and put his head on mine and stare right into my eyes. His eyes said it all.” — Kate Sytsma
2. “She drops her head on my shoulder and holds for a few seconds. Then pops up, looks at me and smiles. I know exactly what she is saying.” — Christine Aguirrie Wingfield
3. “She plays peek-a-boo with me with her precious blankie, and when she covers my face with it, she leans in and touches her head to mine with the blanket between us.” — Melissa Cote
5. “When I’m not feeling well he always sits next to me, on my feet or crawls onto my lap (even though he’s the same size as me). Then he sings me pretty songs, just like I do to him. Everything he does just shows me how much he loves me. I’ve been longing to hear the words again since his last seizure seven years ago when his speech got set back again. But I think his actions speak louder than any words. His eyes and smile light up even my worst days.” — Cristin Nesius
6. “I was crying the other day after a frustrating, rough tantrum afternoon. She climbed in my lap, put her arms around my neck and patted my cheeks with sweet toddler hands.” — Shannon Rudolph White
13. “Her giggles. It’s like the sun coming out of the rain.” — Maggie Fluck
14. “Lays his head in my shoulder and then gives me a kiss. It’s a really gross, slobbery, open-mouthed baby kiss… but I love it.” — Erika Chwalik
15. “He’ll lay down, and pat the bed for me to lay down next to him, and when I do he’ll put his big arm (he has one “little” arm and one “big arm”) around my neck and snuggle me in close. Or I’ll pick him up, and he’ll put his head down on my shoulder and run his fingers through my hair. He’s 2 and it makes my heart melt every time.” — Kristin Calkin
16. “He grabs my face with his little hands and touches his sweet little nose to mine.” — Tammy Ellis Humphrey
17. “When I pick her up at school or when I come home from work and she sees me, she starts jumping up and down in the same spot with the biggest smile on her face. After like 15-20 seconds, she comes hopping towards me and gives me the best hug ever.” — Lorena Villalobos
18. “When friends/family come over, he hides their shoes so they can’t leave. We call it ‘I love you’ in ‘Jeremy-ese.'” — Diane Kim
19. “She lays her head on my shoulder or touches her forehead to mine.” — Melinda Brown
20. “He lets me hold him and sing ‘Rock-a-bye-baby.’ He sits only long enough to let me sing it then he’s off.” – Adrianne Margarito
21. “When we sit together, he puts his little hand on my arm. While he’s eating or watching TV, he just sits connected with me. Sometimes he just looks up and pats me. He just checks in on me sometimes – at some level, he knows we are in this together – that it’s me and him against the world.” — Jennifer Thompson
Ridley, aka “Lost Voice Guy,” doesn’t shy away from lightheartedly poking fun of his disability.
“Let me test your powers of observation. Raise your hand if you can tell that I have a slight disability,” Ridley, or rather, a mechanical voice from the speakers, says to an audience in the video below. The crowd erupts with laughter, and Ridley grins as he delivers the punchline: “It’s the hair, isn’t it? It’s a dead giveaway, really. Or maybe, it’s the shoes?”
Watch Ridley receive the 2014 BBC New Comedy Award and catch some hilarious footage from his shows in the video below.
“These are some of the most beautiful and powerful women in the world,” Hammer told The Mighty in an email. “Women and young women alike should be looking up to and trying to emulate role models not runway models.”
I was ready for a big outing. It had been six weeks since you were born, and I was finally cleared for driving. Heading to the grocery store seemed like just the ticket. I planned our excursion for a time when I thought there wouldn’t be many people. I didn’t think I was ready for people to see you. I was learning a lot, but you and your diagnosis were so new. I was proud of you and so excited you were finally here, but the news of your diagnosis surprised and terrified me.
I don’t think I’d taken ten steps into the produce department when I saw a small, kind-looking white-haired woman making what could only be called a beeline for us — or more precisely, you. I steeled myself. What would she do when she saw you? Would she be horrified? Would she look at me with pity? No matter what, I knew I’d be crying in the next two minutes.
The time it took her to reach us was probably all of 20 seconds, and the whole time I was thinking, “The doctor told me I was going to have to learn to be an advocate for you. So, here we go.” When she arrived cart-side, my hands were sweaty and my heart was thumping. I think the physiological term is “fight or flight response.”
She gave me the quick obligatory smile before turning her gaze to you, the true object of her desire. She looked for several seconds. Then, she raised her head and looked right into my eyes. Her face showed everything she was thinking. This was it. And with blue eyes shining, she said, “You have a beautiful baby!” Our Lady of the Produce had beaten my estimate; I was crying in under two minutes. I looked from her beaming face down at you, knowing beyond a doubt, that she was right.
The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love. No gesture is too small! If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to email@example.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.
Last December, Mary Ann Pyron asked her Facebook friends to send her then 18-year-old son, Blake, Christmas cards. Blake, who has Down syndrome, loves receiving mail. When his mother’s request made local news, he found his mailbox in Sanger, Texas, quickly filling up. Pyron expected maybe 20 cards — more than 300 came in from all over the country.
One letter stuck out.
Sergeant Kenneth Osborn, deployed in Afghanistan, heard about Pyron’s Christmas wish and sent the now 19-year-old a letter, along with a hat and flag (that he flew for Blake) from his base and two scarves from a local Afghan family. Blake received the letter on Monday, Feb. 9.
The letter reads:
Hey buddy. I saw you on TV and wanted to send you some stuff from Afghanistan. First and foremost, inside is a flag that I personally flew on two operations out here for you. Those operations were conducted on Christmas Day and New Years, and I’m happy to say that all of our men made it back safely. With this flag is a certificate signed by me and a sticker representing our unit, Hammer Company Task Force ODIN. Next is a hat from the base that I operate on out here. Lastly, I have included two handmade scarves from a local Afghan family out here. The scarves are purple and yellow, the colors I saw you wear on TV. I just wanna say that I think it is really awesome that you are the captain of your team. I was in charge of our operations in which your flag was flown. So I got to be just like you, a captain of a team. Well I gotta go buddy, I want you to know you are my hero!
SGT Kenneth Osborn
“Blake was thrilled,” Pyron told The Mighty in an email. “He loves our troops.”
The Pyrons later connected with Osborn on Facebook.