February 20, 2014

Golisano Foundation Launches 4th Annual Challenge to Spread the Word to End the “R” Word

Spread the Word to End the Word - 03/15/2014

Take the Pledge

March 5, 2014 is the annual day of awareness of the hurtful use of the R-word. Organizations across the Rochester region organized pledge activities to spread awareness, reaching tens of thousands of people. This is the fourth year that the Golisano Foundation challenged the Rochester community to Spread the Word to End the Word™ to create a more accepting world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have unique gifts and talents to share with the world.

Video message from Tom Golisano

Rochester NY Spread the Word Activities

Email us to share how you are spreading the work in your organization so we can recognize your organization on our website.

  • 9:00 – 11:30 AM
    University of Rochester Medical Center, Cafe 601 
    DJ Louie | 601 Elmwood Ave, Rochester
  • 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
    University of Rochester Wilson Commons Hirsch Lounge
    Wheels in Motion | River Campus
    This dance group of abled bodied persons and persons in wheelchairs performed and the leader of the group shared his story of life in a wheelchair, his struggles and triumphs.
  • Noon – 3:00 PM 
    University of Rochester Medical Center Cafe 601
    Gregory Street Blues Band  | 601 Elmwood Ave, Rochester
  • 2:00 PM
    Mercy HIgh School
    School wide pledge – 800 students, faculty and staff
    1437 Blossom Rd, Rochester, NY 14610
    Mercy l Spread the Word on March 5th throughout the school in every classroom with posters, pledge banners, and online pledges.

All Day Activities to Spread the Word

  • Penn Yan Academy
    305 Court St, Penn Yan, NY 14527
    School-wide announcement. Students received Spread the Word to End the Word wristbands in homeroom classes. Student leaders wore r-word T-shirts. During lunches students signed the pledge banner that hangs in the front lobby for all to see and to sign, as a visual impact of the event and its importance. A video made by our teacher librarian and media students was shown to all students Friday during a school wide assembly. It signifies the importance of ending the r-word that deserves more than just a day of recognition and is something to continually strive for.
  • Sigl Community of Agencies
    1000 Elmwood Ave, Rochester, NY 14620
    The Sigl Community has added the pledge link to its web site and is sharing posts and content on social media. They spotlighted Spread the Word to End the Word in their e-newsletter, invited friends and neighbors to take the pledge, and hung posters throughout Al Sigl’s campuses.
  • Roberts Wesleyan College
    2301 Westside Dr, Rochester, NY 14624
    The College’s Academic Diversity Committee invited faculty to share information in classes about the campaign. Promotional materials were available to the campus community at several locations across campus.

Spread the Word to End the Word ™  aims tobuild awareness for thinking about and making a stand against using the R-word – “retard” or “retarded,” a word that has gained popularity in culture, but is offensive and hurtful to many.

Hundreds of thousands of people have already signed the pledge and Rochester can be proud to lead the way,” said Ann Costello, Director of the Golisano Foundation, which has campaigned to Spread the Word to End the Word for four years.  “Through greater awareness we can inspire other communities to make a dramatic change – and to think before using words that perpetuate the stigma and negative stereotypes.”

“Most people who use the words retard or retarded do not mean to be hateful, but to the millions of people around the world who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families and friends, it is hurtful, and as cruel and offensive as any other slur.”

Spread the Word to End the Word™ was started by youth and is an ongoing effort of Special Olympics International, Best Buddies and other supporters.

“Each year we continue to make an impact and are grateful for the response we receive.  We want to continue to build awareness and keep the message going. We’re asking people, schools, businesses, organizations and communities to take the pledge to end the R word and use the new r-word, respect. It’s easy, it doesn’t cost anything, it takes just a minute and it can make a big difference.“

How to Take the Pledge & Spread the Word!

  • Go to and take the pledge. It only takes a minute of your time, it doesn’t cost anything and we know that the collective impact can make a difference
  • Visit to get information and resources on how to spread the word to end the word! in schools and organizations.
  • We have posters and stickers for organizations promoting end the word activities.
  • Invite your friends and colleagues to Take the Pledge to stop the hurtful use of the “R-word.”
  • Resources – see r-word website to get started. There are sample emails, tweets and everyting you need to spread the word.

Articles of Interest

A Word Gone Wrong – By Lawrence Downes, Sunday NY Times

A Word Can Be a Matter of Life and Death, by Matthew Holder, President Elect, American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry, and Global Medical Advisor for Special Olympics

In the News

WROC TV 8 | Video
WHEC TV 10 | Video
Time Warner News
Democrat and Chronicle
WXXI TV – Need to Know

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