By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
Starting this weekend and concluding on Feb. 4, the Big 12 Conference will join the Special Olympics in its campaign to stamp out use of the "R" word.
"The "R" word means "retarded" and it's demeaning and disgraceful to be used in any context," said Big 12 Conference senior associate commissioner Dru Hancock, who is the Conference's main liaison with the Special Olympics. "It's a word we've seen and heard it used far too much. This is a campaign to educate people and use our student-athletes and coaches to help educate people to end the use of that word.
"We're excited about it. It's a great opportunity for our men's and women's basketball teams, our fans, our cheerleaders, to get everyone involved."
The campaign, called Spread The Word To End The Word, will be emphasized at Big 12 games starting this weekend. Fans will be urged to go online to R-WORD.ORG and digitally pledge to eliminate the use of the R-Word.
"We're encouraging our coaches and student-athletes to Tweet and use Facebook to get the message out," Hancock said. "This is an all-out campaign and we're hopeful we can help have an impact."
Big 12 member schools have been involved with Special Olympics, sponsoring events and fund raisers. The R-Word campaign is the first time the Conference office has been involved with an initiative that reaches all of the member campuses.
"The Special Olympics has been one of our partners since the start of the Conference," Hancock said. "I've always maintained that our student-athletes and coaches get more out of the interactions we have than the Special Olympians do."