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Volunteer for the Special Olympics

POSTED: March 25, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Special Olympics recently announced a new campaign, “Spread the Word to End the Word — 3.31.09,” encouraging people to stop using the derogatory word “retard” in casual conversation.


The purpose of this nationwide effort is to educate and raise awareness about individuals with intellectual disabilities and the use of the disparaging “R-word” in personal vernacular and in the media.


John C. McGinley, star of television’s “Scrubs,” was inspired to promote this endeavor by the “motivation, creativity and passion” displayed by youth at the Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit in February. 


“Most people don’t think of this word as the language of hate, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends. I choose to believe that most of us are fundamentally good and that we’re just not aware that the word is offensive and that it hurts,” said McGinley.


As the proud parent of a son with Down syndrome and a resident of “Dawson County — where quality of life matters,” I am challenging everyone in our community to stop using the demeaning word “retard” in casual conversation. 


Eliminate the “R-word” from your vocabulary and replace it with a different r-word, “respect.”


Consider this challenge to be an opportunity for your own personal growth as you demonstrate compassion and tolerance of differences of individuals with intellectual disabilities.


More information about the elimination of the deprecating use of the “R-word” in our society can be found at 


Additional information regarding Special Olympics can be found at


Moreover, we are in critical need of volunteers to help with Special Olympics in our community.


If you would like to be part of a team to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities to realize their potential, contact Pam Gross at


Pam Gross




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