Student-Athletes Take Pledge Against The "R" Word

Text provided by Special Olympics Public Relations

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Today is the official Spread the Word to End the Word day and is recognized all over the world.

Central Michigan University (CMU) student athletes, coaches and staff members have pledged to participate in the 2011 Spread the Word to End the Word campaign for Special Olympics. They are inviting community members, students and faculty to join them in helping to abolish the use of the "R" word.

The campaign is an international effort to end the use of the term "retard" or "retarded." This year, CMU Athletics and its Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) have joined with Special Olympics Michigan to spread awareness of this campaign around campus as well as Mt. Pleasant and surrounding communities.

"We want the community to join these student athletes and take the pledge," said Dan Ekonen, Special Olympics Michigan coordinator of volunteers and coaches education.

Student athletes and coaches have signed banners signifying their pledge against the "R" word. These banners were hung on Feb. 23 at the CMU women's basketball game, on Thursday, Feb 24 at the CMU gymnastics meet and on Saturday, Feb 26 at the men's and women's basketball double header, all at McGuirk Arena. A banner is also available for community members to sign on Wednesday, March 2 in the Special Olympics Michigan office on the campus of CMU.

"We urge members of the community as well as CMU students to come out and sign the banners," said Ekonen. "Take it seriously, raise your awareness of the harmful nature of the word and be proactive."

Members of the SAAC are spearheading this event and are encouraging their team members to take the pledge. They are also asking their fans and fellow students to pledge as well.

"These student athletes are asking their team members and those in the community to take the "R" word out of their speech," said Jason Holtman, associate athletic director for student-athlete development. "It is too frequently used without conscious recognition."

The partnership of Special Olympics Michigan and CMU Athletics is not new, many student athletes volunteer at State Summer Games held on CMU's campus. This year's State Summer Games are June 2-4, 2011.

"Both Special Olympics Michigan and CMU Athletics are very visible on campus," said Holtman. "It is a natural fit for us to work together."

Another group on campus promoting this campaign is Best Buddies, a Registered Student Organization part of the global international Best Buddies group which supports Special Olympics International. Best Buddies members' partner with members of the community who have intellectual disabilities. Best Buddies will have a table set up in the Bovee University Center on Feb. 28- March 2.  Students and faculty can come sign a banner and learn more about the "R" word campaign.

The banners will be hung during the State Summer Games for athletes from all around the state to see.

For more information or to pledge to end the use of the word not only in your community but globally visit .


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