Born with brain damage that left him with the cognitive ability of a child, deafness in both ears, legally blind in one eye, partial paralysis on his left side, and unable to speak well until the age of ten, Kenny Tedford is a real-life combination of Helen Keller and Forrest Gump.
Despite those challenges, and being told he’d never finish the third grade, Kenny Tedford grew up to defy all the odds. Not only did he finish high school, but is one of only two deaf people in the world with a master’s degree in storytelling, and eventually served as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Kenny is a motivational speaker, humorist, actor, and masterful storyteller, sharing his message that if he can achieve his dreams, anyone can. His unique and authentic humor flows naturally from the kind of mishaps and misunderstandings that inevitably happen when a child finds themself navigating life in the body of a disabled, grown man.
Your audience will laugh, cry, and cheer while they fall in love with this man.
Kenny is the subject of the new book, Four Days with Kenny Tedford, written by bestselling author Paul Smith.
This is the most important book I’ve ever written. Or ever will.
It’s the result of my effort to capture a lifetime of experience and wisdom from a man unlike any you’ve ever met.
Kenny Tedford was born with brain damage that left him with the cognitive ability of a 4th grader, deafness in both ears, blindness in one eye, partial paralysis on his left side, and difficulty speaking until the age of ten — a remarkable combination of Helen Keller and Forrest Gump.
Mocked as the “retarded” kid in school, Kenny Tedford’s life — that could easily have been nothing but a depressingly sullen tale of victimhood — turned out to be one filled with a unique combination of joy and heartbreak, laughter and tears, failure and accomplishment, friendship, faith, and peace.
It would be easy to forgive someone with Kenny’s set of challenges for being bitter at life. But Kenny turned out to be the most charming man I’ve ever met. I set out on this journey to understand why, and I was not disappointed.
Along the way, I also expected to learn much from Kenny about how to be — and to care for — someone with disabilities. And I did, which you’ll see summarized in the final chapter of the book. What I didn’t expect, however, was to learn more about courage, faith, family, persistence, pride, hard work, kindness, respect, and humility in four days than I learned in my own 51 years of life. I also didn’t expect to laugh and cry out loud in the span of a single paragraph. But I did.
Reading his story, you will too.
— Paul Smith