News                                                             February 15, 2017
Golisano Foundation
Dalmath Associates (585) 586-6650
Golisano Foundation and Community to Launch Biggest Campaign to Date to Spread the 
Word to End the R Word
Record Number of Organizations Planning Pledge Campaigns and Events - City of Rochester, Hospitals, High Schools, Sports Teams, Colleges and Businesses
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- February 15, 2017 --  A record number of organizations will join the Golisano Foundation on and around March 1 to Spread the Word to End the R-Word™.

Spread the Word to End the R-Word  asks people to pledge to take a stand against using the R-word, "retard" or "retarded," a word that  is offensive and derogatory to people with developmental disabili ties. It is being held on and around the national Spread the Word to End the Word day of awareness on March 1.  

The Rochester movement has become one of the largest in the country for a single region. 

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

Spread the Word to End the Word was founded in 2009 and is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics (SO), Best Buddies to inspire respect and acceptance. The Golisano Foundation has spearheaded this initiative in Rochester since 2011. The goal is to promote more inclusive communities for people with disabilities and special needs, and reach out to more people who can spread the word and pledge to use respectful language that promotes more accepting attitudes for all people. The R-Word initiative also helps celebrate the unique gifts and talents that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities  have and can share with the world. 

To date more than 50 regional organizations and associates of the Golisano Foundation are planning Spread the Word to End the Word pledge activities.  Additional activities will be announced as details come in.

"Our thanks to everyone w ho has stepped up to spread the word," added Costello.  "We hope even more schools, businesses, organizations and communities will join our  campaign  to take the pledge to end the r-word and use the new r-word, respect. It's easy, it doesn't cost anything and takes just a minute to take the pledge online. We also invite people to come to one of the many pledge events, take the pledge and show your support, because it can make a big difference. Let's build on the awareness and keep the message going."

Special Events
  • March 1 - City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren will host a Press Conference and Proclaim the day End the R Word Day. 10 a.m., City Hall. Media Advisory to follow with details.  The public is invited to take the pledge at City Hall anytime from 10 a.m. on March 1st and throughout the month of March in the Visitors' Room of City Hall, which is just inside the Church Street entrance.
  • March 2 - Rochester Premiere of the film, "Diffability Hollywood," with a panel discussion to follow with the filmmaker Adrian Esposito, who is from Rochester and has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism; and D&C Film Critic, Jack Garner. Diffability Hollywood is a documentary about Hollywood's portrayal of people with disabilities in films throughout history. This event is presented as part of WXXI and the Golisano Foundation's  Move to Include initiative. Little Theatre 5, 240 East Avenue, 6-8:30 p.m., FREE
  • March 3 - Rochester's First Inclusive Fashion Show - Hosted by Best Buddies Nazareth and featuring models from Pittsford Central School District, Brighton Central School District and Nazareth College. Nazareth College, 4245 East Avenue, 7-9 p.m., Tickets
The following Rochester organizations  will be Spreading the Word to End the Word on March 1 and other days with pledge activities on site, email and social media campaigns and more. 
  • Apresto Corp
  • Best Buddies - each school chapter will have an event
  • Bishop Kearney HS - Bring a Buddy to School Day, Assembly and pledge signing
  • Brighton High School
  • Bulb Direct
  • Churchville High School
  • City of Rochester
  • Companion Radio
  • Cornell University
  • Dansville High School
  • Eastman Institute of Oral Health
  • Fairport High School
  • Gates High School
  • Golisano Children's Hospital, University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Greece Odyssey High School
  • Hilton High School
  • Holy Childhood - Buddies will be joining their peer buddies at Bishop Kearney for lunch and "bring a buddy to school."
  • Mary Cariola Children's Center
  • McQuaid Jesuit High School - assembly on March 8
  • Monroe Community College
  • Nazareth College
  • Our Lady of Mercy High School - assembly
  • Paychex
  • Penfield High School
  • Pittsford Middle Schools - Special Olympics NY Unified Game, March 16th 
  • Pittsford-Mendon High School
  • Razor Sharks - attending schools to assist with pledges
  • Rhinos -  attending schools to assist with pledges
  • Roberts Wesleyan College
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Rochester KnightHawks  -  attending schools to assist with pledges, Social Media PSA by goal keeper Danny LyndRochester Museum and Science Center
  • Rochester Regional Health
  • Spencerport High School
  • University of Rochester (River Campus)
  • W. Irondequoit High School
  • Warner School of Education (University of Rochester) 
  • Wayne High School
  • Webster Thomas High School
  • WXXI & The Little Theatre - Rochester Premiere of the film, "Diffability Hollywood," with panel discussion to follow with the filmmaker Adrian Esposito, who is from Rochester and has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism; and D&C Film Critic, Jack Garner. Diffability Hollywood is a  documentary about Hollywood's portrayal of people with disabilities in films throughout history. Theatre 5, 6-8:30 PM, FREE
  • YMCA of Greater Rochester - Pledge signings in branch locations and social media campaigns
Friends of the Golisano Foundation that are participating outside Rochester
  • Canisius College
  • City of Buffalo - Mayor Byron Brown will kick off pledge signings
  • Daemon College, Buffalo - organizing pledge events at multiple locations in Buffalo: Spot Coffee, Mr. Bills Coffee (Golisano Clinic), Grateful Grinds, Daily Planet
  • Golisano Center for Community Health at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center
  • Golisano Children's Hospital of South West Florida (Lee Health)
  • Museum of disABILITY History, Buffalo NY
  • Niagara Falls Catholic (School System)
  • Special Olympics NY
  • State University of NY at Buffalo - night of Inclusion: games, food and Spread the Word give-aways
    State University of NY Cortland
  • University at Buffalo
  • Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital Syracuse, NY
Video Message from Tom Golisano

How t o Organize a Pledge Event
Pledge to show respect
Go to and take the pledge, and to get information and resources on how to Spread the word to end the word in schools, companies and organizations.
Email the Foundation with Pledge Activities
The Foundation will recognize those organizations that are spreading the word on the web site. To be included organizations should send an email to

Social Media
The Foundation will also be following along on social media. Tag us in your pictures and tweets on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #respect, #rword, and #RocRespect,  @GolisanoFdn /

About Golisano Foundation
The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States devoted exclusively to supporting programs for people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1985 with an initial gift of $90,000 from B. Thomas Golisano, the founder and Chairman of Paychex, the Foundation now has more than $36 million in assets and awards about $2 million annually, to non-profit organizations in a multi-county region surrounding Rochester, New York that serve people with developmental disabilities.
The Golisano Foundation is committed to opening doors, changing perceptions, and forging unprecedented partnerships in pursuit of the goal to provide individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with pathways to self-sufficiency, personal dignity, and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes. 

Through our targeted initiatives, it is our vision that communities will encourage and commit to inclusion, acceptance and opportunity for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and provide services that empower individuals to make their way productively and creatively in their communities. In addition to providing funding, the Foundation also serves as a proactive partner with organizations that serve people with intellectual disabilities, working together to promote acceptance and inclusion in the community and workplace.  
For more information see

Spread the Word to End the Word
Spread the Word to End the Word was founded in 2009 and is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics (SO), Best Buddies and SO supporters to inspire respect and acceptance through raising the consciousness of society about the R-word and how hurtful words and disrespect can be toward people with intellectual disabilities.The campaign, created by youth, is intended to engage schools and organizations and communities to rally and pledge their support at   and to promote the inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.