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BullyBlossom is a memoir with a message

A new book tells the story of a successful businessman's struggle with stuttering. From beating a bully at boxing to running a bank it's a tale of achievement.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — A successful banker and businessman right here in East Tennessee just published a book about stuttering, bullying and success.

"If you rate stuttering on a scale of one to 10 with 10 being the worse, I was a nine," Thad Cox.

As a kid, he was excluded because he stuttered.

At 83, Thad Cox has written a memoir with a message:  "Bullyblossom: A Tale of Overcoming Bullies and Embracing Stuttering To Live a Life of Achievement."

 It's aimed at young readers and their parents. 

"I hope they laugh at some of the incidences that I had because some of them were funny," he said. 

Credit: Charlie Daniel
Charlie Daniel illustrated BullyBlossom

Editorial cartoonist, Charlie Daniel, illustrated it. 

For the writing, Thad Cox collaborated with Tricia Hedinger  at the University of Tennessee Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology. She's an expert on stuttering and passionate about bullying. 

Credit: WBIR
Tricia Hedinger provided expertise on stuttering and bullying

"There's anti-bullying tips throughout the book for kids and parents to take a look at," she said. 

She says about 1% of the population stutters. That translates in to about 2,000 people in Knoxville.

"A lot of kids never get a chance to meet another child who stutters," she said. "The reason we wrote this book is to help kids feel connected with other kids experiences." 

Thad said, "When I was going to school, you had to grow up on the playground. The teachers didn't supervise the playgrounds, That's where you were supposed to grow up and deal with your peers."

That's where Thad dealt with a bully. He challenged the bully to a boxing match, and beat him.

Credit: Charlie Daniel
Challenging a bully to a boxing match and beating him built Thad Cox's confidence

"The book is about me growing up through college. I was elected president of my fraternity in college and that really helped me build confidence," he said. "I was the Chairman of the Board of SunTrust Bank. I worked there 34 years."

Thad said he still stutters.  

"Some children do grow out of it. About 80% of kids will grow out of stuttering but there's some who don't. That's what therapy does is kind of help them speak more easily, handle more difficult situations that they have, figure out how to respond to bullies," Tricia said. 

He faced down bullies and accomplished a lot and now would like to see a copy of the book in every library in Tennessee

"One of my slogans was get off the bench, get in the game, score some points, build some confidence and you'll do better."

Tricia Hedinger Bio:

Tricia Hedinger is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Audiology & Speech Pathology at UT.  She is a Board Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders helping children, adolescents and adults who stutter. She is a Chapter Leader and Regional Director for the National Stuttering Association Support Group network and consults with schools throughout the southeast United States on the evaluation and treatment of people who stutter. In August 2019, she collaborated with Knox County schools to develop and implement an anti-bullying program for grades 3-5.   Ms. Hedinger also directs the UT Volunteer Your Voice Summer Camp for children ages 8-16 with speech, language and/or hearing impairments.

For more information on therapy for stuttering, email thedinge@uthsc.edu or call (865) 974-5451 to schedule an appointment

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