Reading is ‘Fonz’-amental

By on October 21, 2015

Moravian Manor in Lititz. Winkler was the guest speaker.

During local visit Monday, Happy Days star Henry Winkler speaks about discovering he suffered from dyslexia at age 31

The black leather jacket was missing and the greasy black hair was gone.

But the unmistakable “Fonz” was in the house Monday night at the downtown Lancaster Marriott.

Henry Winkler, the star of the hit series Happy Days, was guest speaker at the Fifth Annual Engaging the Community dinner, sponsored by Moravian Manor in Lititz.

The main focus for the gala was to bring to light the problem of learning disabilities of today’s youth.

Winkler discovered he suffered from dyslexia at age 31.

“It wasn’t until my wife and I had our son Jed tested that I found out that I had dyslexia,” said Winkler. “All through school I couldn’t read the way others could and I couldn’t spell or do math. Even my parents thought I was an underachiever.”

Mondays’ event was witnessed by between 350 and 400 guests, some of which were lucky enough to attend a “meet and greet” with Winkler. All the proceeds of the event go to the Benevolent Care Fund at Moravian Manor which helps the care of the residence at the facility.

“This is the fifth year we’ve held this,” said Nicky Michael, Corporate director of Sales and Marketing for Moravian Manor. “Each year it seems to get bigger. We couldn’t be more pleased with the turnout.”

Winkler said “from the age of 7 that I wanted to be an actor,” but his parents, immigrants from Germany, wanted him to take over the family wood importing business.

“My parents wouldn’t hear of it and wanted me to take over the family business, but I had a dream and that’s what I focused on throughout my youth,” Winkler remembered.

After graduation Winkler applied at numerous colleges and finally was accepted at Yale Drama School where he studied acting and began his dream of becoming an actor.

“The message I want the young people to understand is to not be defined by school, but by your greatness,” said Winkler.

As a youth the Fonz was yelled at, ashamed and frustrated by his learning disability and wants to make sure today’s youth understand they are great in their own way.

“I didn’t read my first novel until I was 31 and to this day if I order a slice of pizza and pay with cash I have no idea if the change is correct,” Winkler offered,

To date Winkler had written 31 books, 17 of which are about a character named Hank Zipzer who is dyslexic whom Winkler labeled “the world’s greatest underachiever.”

Throughout his message Winkler made references to those who suffer from learning disabilities and encouraged them to “be who they are”.

“This is one of the reason we had Mr. Winkler here tonight,” said Ms. Michael. “This is a multi-generational group and both young and old here suffer from the same thing that he does.”

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