News 2011

Golisano Foundation Challenges Rochester to End to "R" Word

February 14, 2011 It’s Valentine's Day and the Golisano Foundation is challenging the Rochester community to Spread the Word to End the Word to show its love and create a more accepting world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have unique gifts and talents to share with the world. The Golisano Foundation and Special Olympics of the Genesee Region are partnering over the next two weeks to Spread the Word to End the Word, a campaign that aims to build awareness for thinking about and making a stand against using the R-word, “retard” or “retarded,” words that have gained popularity in culture, but are offensive and hurtful to many.

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 to raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word “retard(ed)” and encourage people to pledge to stop using the R-word.

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

“We believe that with greater awareness Rochester can lead the way nationally, and inspire other communities to make a dramatic change - and to think before using words that perpetuate the stigma and negative stereotypes."

“So 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.“

Costello said that the awareness campaign includes TV spots on WHEC TV 10 and radio public service announcements featuring Tom Golisano, Chairman of the Golisano Foundation that will air leading up to the national day of awareness on March 2. People can help spread the word and take the pledge year-round in their communities and schools through a number of activities.

How Take the Pledge! 

Go to to make a pledge, and to get information and resources on how to Spread the word to end the word! in schools and organizations.

Email the Foundation with Your Pledge Activities

The Foundation will recognize those organizations that are spreading the word on our web site. The Institute for Innovative Transition at the Univetrsity of Rochester Medical Center, The Harley School, and the RIT Hockey Team have already signed on to Take the Pledge. To be included organizations should send an email to

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