The event was hosted by Best Buddies and it didn't take long for Dan Sepulveda and Corey Anthony to take that to heart, quickly becoming friends.
Sepulveda was teamed with Anthony, who has Down Syndrome, at the Duquesne University event. The idea was to get to know each other and realize that while they may be different in some ways, but they have plenty of similarities.
"When I got there I couldn't imagine how cool it was going to be meeting Corey," said Sepulveda. "He has an incredible personality, he's so much fun. We had so much fun talking about what we have in common, sports we like. We were joking together."
For those with Down Syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities the world can be a cruel place. People make snap judgments about them, revert to name-calling and often times don't give them a chance. Best Buddies is trying to turn that around through their "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign. That word that can be so cutting, so biting and so unfair is retarded, a word many want to not hear again.
"The way in which Dan and Corey interacted with each other truly showed the message that we wanted to be conveyed, which was thatwe allhave so much more in commonthan we do differences and we must take the time to show respect to each other," said Emily Karas, who just graduated from Duquesne with her Master's Degree in Special Education and is a member of Best Buddies."By doing so, a much more inclusive world will be created for everyone."
Sepulveda is one whose eyes were opened because of Best Buddies.
"What society does is write them off and they become someone you have to deal with," said Sepulveda. "That is just the perception. That is not the case. It was so neat to see Corey and his story, how he goes to school, has a job and is giving back. Just the fact that he is God's creation just like everyone else is so cool. To be able to share with him, see the smile on his face, the joy I could see in his life and the joy it brought to me, just how we are brothers in Christ. That is all we are at the end of the day.
"I hope I never take something like that for granted, the fact that you can go and make someone smile just because you are a Pittsburgh Steeler. That's something I never want to take for granted, it's just too cool."
About Best Buddies:
Best Buddies is an international non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities in one-to-one friendships with their peers in order to create lasting friendships. Currently, Best Buddies operates in each of the 50 states and in 46 countries, impacting 700,000 people worldwide.
"Spread the Word to End the Word" is a campaign created to engage schools, organizations, and communities by raising the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word, the word "retard(ed)" and encourage everyone to stop using this word. Our event was centered around the themes of respect, inclusion, and acceptance for all people, no matter what their differences may be.