March 7th is the official day of the End the R word campaign.
There is a story I could share about how this word was directed towards someone I love dearly.
But I won’t.
I heard what was muttered and the person it was directed towards did not. Putting it in print will not help either of us.
I was crushed, I wanted to cry and become an expert kick-boxer all at once so I could hurt this person the way they had just hurt me.
The incident still lingers in my mind but it’s purpose has been transformed.
Being slapped in the face with such ignorance changed my future.
I began to seek out places of acceptance rather than yearn for places of “normal.”
If there were not opportunities where they should be, I
harassed worked with people to make it happen.
And now, many, many years after The Incident I would like to go back and thank that poor man.
His uninformed, close-minded, cruel statement fueled a fire in me I didn’t know I had.
I have learned more from the character, determination and human kindess displayed at a Special Olympics game than I have ever learned from a college course or job experience.
People with special needs deserve more than a smile and an open door, they deserve our respect, our love and our advocacy.
Please take a moment today and pledge not to use the work “retard.” Not for a laugh or out of laziness or out of disregard for another’s feelings. Correct someone if you hear it said.
Ignorance is the most devastating disability of all.
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