Luke Bryan on meeting 14-year-old who learned to pronounce the letter ‘K’ with the singer’s name
Fourteen-year-old Max Bird might be Luke Bryan’s biggest fan.
“His songs make me happy,” Max told ABC News. “All the time.”
Max’s parents say he loves the country singer so much that they play Bryan’s music to motivate Max to do just about anything.
“We clean the house to Luke Bryan. We get dressed in the morning to Luke Bryan. [We] brush our teeth and get out the door to Luke Bryan, and [Max] takes a Luke CD every day on his bus to school,” Max’s father, Paul Bird, told ABC News.
Max, who lives with his parents and his brother Mitchell in Iowa, has trouble with his speech, so his mother, Jaimi Bird, and Sarah Sitzmann, who are both speech pathologists, work with Max to help him communicate better. Jaimi Bird says her son has apraxia of speech.
“Many children have difficulties with certain speech sounds, and we work with them all the time as well,” Jaimi Bird told ABC News. “Apraxia of speech is a little bit more than that. It’s a little more complicated in the sense that it’s more a motor planning problem. And so that’s why the [letters] ‘K’ and ‘G’ were so hard.”
“I help him say certain sounds,” Sitzmann told ABC News. “Pretty much after every single session, we always watch a Luke Bryan video. All I have to say is, ‘Max, what are we working for?’ And he’ll say, ‘Luke!’ So then I’ll say, ‘OK! Let’s keep going.’”
One day while working with Sitzmann, Max was finally able to pronounce the sound of the letter “K,” which he wanted to accomplish so he could say, “Luke Bryan.”
“We’ve worked for over a year, and, so, I mean, I didn’t know if it would happen, and actually he got the ‘K’ on my last day working with him,” Sitzmann said.
“I can’t even tell you how it made me and Paul feel when he got a sound! I mean, we’ve been working on it for so long!” Jaimi Bird said.
Sitzmann posted a video on social media of the session when Max successfully pronounced Bryan’s name, and the clip quickly became viewed by thousands of people, including a reporter from the Des Moines Register, who wrote about Max and his love for Bryan.
Luke Bryan said he was browsing through social media when he first came across Max’s story.
“When you think about — he’s used saying my name as one of his goals and motivation through life, it’s the highest form of flattery,” Bryan told ABC News.
Bryan and Max finally got to meet each other at Bryan’s concert in Boone, Iowa, on Sept. 30, 2017.
“When I meet a kid like him, it always puts it into perspective. I think we can get in our daily routine,” Bryan said. “But when you meet somebody like Max and the other kids I’ve met, I mean, that’s when you’re like, alright, this is good stuff.”
Bryan asked Max to say his name, and the two did a quick duet of Max’s favorite song by Bryan, “Here’s to the Farmer.”
“We all have goals; everybody has challenges. Some peoples’ are bigger than others’. Max has worked really hard,” Jaimi Bird said. “He has a lot to say, and sometimes, I think people don’t get that; they don’t see that he has so much knowledge and so much to give and share, because they can’t understand him. Now, he’s a little bit closer to being understood better.”
“I’m just glad I have the ability to be out there and hopefully putting smiles on people’s faces and doing positive things,” said Bryan.
WATCH: “Living Every Day: Luke Bryan”: A Robin Roberts special presentation, airing Monday, Nov. 6, at 10 ET/9 CT on ABC.