Five Americans to share personal stories about growing up

Charlie Kramer was diagnosed with a rare eye disease at age 5. Ten years later, he was declared legally blind.

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source: https://imgur.com/XHm1Zus

Kramer says he hid from his reality. He didn't want to be labeled “the blind musician.”

“I was running away from my blindness,” said Kramer, founder of “Singing in the Dark,” a blindfolded singing experience designed to be healing.

“What I have found is that there is no escaping who we are, and there is actually great joy in self-acceptance,” he said.

Singer-songwriter Charlie Kramer, 28, of Los Angeles will join four others on April 20 to share a story about growing up.

The 28-year-old Los Angeles resident will join four other Americans on April 20, sharing true, personal stories about growing up as part of the USA TODAY Network’s Storytellers Project show.

Kramer will be joined by:

·         Kendra Wagner of Seattle.

·         Brittney K. Walsh of Phoenix. 

·         John B. Johnson of Seattle.

·         Ankur Bora of Dallas.

Johnson, who has roots in Cleveland, will talk about how hard it was to leave his hometown to pursue his dreams in the Pacific Northwest.

John B. Johnson, 32, of Seattle will share a personal story about growing up as part of the Storytellers Project's virtual show on April 20.

Johnson, 32, felt guilty about leaving because when he’d been growing up, his dad wasn’t around, and his brother was incarcerated. He felt pressure to stay, to be a male role model to his nieces and nephews. But he also wanted to grow and make a life of his own.

“I never knew that leaving (would be) an emotional roller coaster ...,” he said, adding that growing up requires courage and strength to set your own path.

Bora, 52, will reflect on an incident in his childhood when he unintentionally became part of a mob that threatened a group of people, including his best friend and his friend’s family. He felt ashamed and his friendship was broken until a special event and song brought them back together.

Ankur Bora, 52, of Dallas is among five people sharing a personal story on April 20 as part of the Storytellers Project's show "Growing Up."

Through his story, Bora said he hopes to convey that we are all created equal and love, compassion and generosity prevail over intolerance, violence and division.

Wagner’s story reflects on the complexities of interracial friendship. 

“Desegregation in my school in Chicago helped me see past skin color, and yet the joy couldn't last since our lives were so different,” she said. “Desegregation had great intentions and formed bonds between Black and white children, but didn't cut to the heart of systemic and historical racism.”

Kendra Wagner of Seattle is part of the Storytellers Project's lineup for a livestreaming show on April 20.

Walsh will tell a story about how watching her parents fight, sometimes violently, impacted her own relationships.

“Because I learned to love like my parents love, I struggled to love and respect myself,” she said. “Learning self-love allowed me to grow in beautiful ways I never could have imagined.”

Brittney K. Walsh of Phoenix has a personal story about growing up that she will share during the Storytellers Project's show on April 20.

“Being able to get out of my head and feel into my feelings saved my life.”

“Growing Up” is part of the Storytellers Project’s 2021 storytelling season, which includes 43 national and regional shows. The series features stories from across the United States told by people coached by USA TODAY Network journalists and professional storytelling experts.