I’m Donal, and I was just eighteen when I embarked on my journey with our family business, balancing responsibilities here and at my part-time job at Dairy Queen. Customers at DQ frequently asked about my accent and origin. Even though the answer was simple, it often triggered puzzled looks and subsequent questions.
I’m from Saskatoon.
My challenge wasn’t geographical. The real task was explaining this without causing discomfort to the questioner or becoming self-conscious. I had been diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech at two. From a young age, the struggle to articulate speech sounds was real, often leading to others guessing my words. I found the challenges of being understood and the teasing of other kids disheartening.
Following my diagnosis, a speech pathologist guided my development until I was twelve, teaching me how to use my tongue, jaw, and lips for more effective English expression. After years of speech therapy, misunderstandings of my words became infrequent. However, comprehension of my words didn’t always lead to understanding my story. The effort to form the words I wanted to express sometimes resulted in feelings of isolation, frustration, and doubt about my ability to communicate.
At first, I was very uncomfortable sharing. As I opened up and became more willing to express my vulnerability, I learned valuable lessons about compassion and empathy. I would need to seek to understand others to connect authentically, which meant having the vulnerability to share my story with those who genuinely cared. They would feel connected to me and know that I recognized that they did care. Afterward, they would feel comfortable opening up to me by sharing their own story.
This understanding did not come easily or quickly. I opened up to those around me, my discipleship team, in my work environments, and to acquaintances sitting across from me at coffee shops. My growth in understanding ushered in new chapters in my life, with deeper relationships, commitment to faith, and ongoing personal development. I grow as I reflect on my story. My passion for people grows with each new story shared with me.
Professional Life of Donal Frank Reed Panko
Today, my journey intertwines with continual professional growth and invaluable life lessons. Therefore, by opening myself up and forging meaningful connections, I empathize with our clients, many of whom are navigating stressful situations such as separation and divorce, child support, custody, visitation, or a stressful real estate transaction.
Everyone has a story. That being the case, I am determined to make people feel understood whenever they share their story or goals. In my work with Panko Law as a paralegal, I diligently ensure excellent service for our clients. As the head of sales & marketing, I’m passionate about stories and experiences.
I am hopeful for the future as I persevere through the challenges resulting from speech apraxia. I have gratitude for each chapter in my story and for those bold enough to share their journey. Similarly, there was a time when a client was brave enough to share her child’s struggle with speech development. She told me about how our connection and my story instilled hope in her, a sentiment that profoundly moved me.
At Panko, we believe in the power of relationships. Everyone has a unique journey. We want to help you along yours. We strive for excellence in our services. Your success matters to us. Our mission is to empower you in your current chapter and those to come. Lastly, when you engage with any team member, expect genuine attentiveness and understanding.