The non-profit organization TCU Best Buddies campaigned with Spread the Word to End the Word Wednesday, asking people to pledge to stop saying “the R-word” [retard] and to stop any discrimination towards the mentally and physically disabled.
The organization partnered with Potbelly’s Sandwiches on Wednesday night, as the group encouraged students in attendance to vow to stop using offensive language toward the disabled.
All proceeds from 5 to 8 p.m. went to spreading awareness, as well as creating friendships and jobs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The message the organization was trying to get across was that language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions, according to president Charlie Ruff, a junior biochemistry major.
“The ‘R-word’ is a slanderous, cold realism that we throw around too often,” Ruff said. “It hurts.”
Best Buddies is about building close, one-on-one relationships involving and enabling people, such as helping them find jobs, Ruff said.
“Best Buddies is all about finding friends for life,” Ruff said. “It’s to get in touch with the people who are alienated from ‘normal society.’”
According to Ruff, the nonprofit organization managed to raise $250 in proceeds for the campaign.
Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is international organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,700 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide, according to the organization’s national website.
NFL quarterback Tom Brady and Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood are just a couple of the well-known celebrities that support Best Buddies, according to Look to the Stars.
While Best Buddies is about making friends and close connections, students like senior strategic communication major Emilie Christian are hit closer to home with family that are affected by the discriminatory R-word everyday.
“As a sister of a mentally challenged sibling, I am more sensitive to the insensitive use of the R-word, as it has become a common synonym for stupidity,” Christian said. “My brother is one of the smartest, funniest people that I have ever known. A medical classification of ‘retarded’ should not ever be used maliciously or casually.”
The use of the word “retarded” is as demeaning and hateful as any racial slur and the words chosen are a direct reflection of your character, Christian said
Senior nursing major Catie Compton, the vice president and treasurer of Best Buddies at TCU, explained what Best Buddies and other supporters use when referring to those with mental and physical disabilities, saying psychological literature no longer uses mental retardation as a technical term.
Compton said she hopes that Best Buddies at TCU can create a way to help others.
“It is not only awareness that we are striving for but change,” Compton said. “Of course awareness is great and wanted, but change is truly what will make differences in lives.”
For more information on Best Buddies at TCU, visit their official page for details.