After being announced the “Lovin’ Compassion Award” Southern Regional winner, my local newspaper did a brief story on me. Being a 15 year old girl, I was thrilled. Until I got online. The article, which had been posted on the newspaper’s website, had over 75 comments. Again, I was thrilled! Until I read the comments. There was a battle going on in these comments. The supporters sticking up for me, fighting for me, were being overthrown. Over half of the comments posted on the article were negative; criticizing not only the movement of Ban the R word, but also myself and my upbringing. Being a 15 year old girl, I was heartbroken.
I had to take a step back to realize what was truly happening. I had always been questioned for my support of Ban the R word, but never had I been directly ridiculed for my beliefs and my involvement. The article’s comments were harsh, rude, and, in my opinion, absurd. But they were also just a small taste. The comments were just a small taste of what is to come in my future involvement with the campaign. The comments were just a small taste of the harsh treatment that people with intellectual disabilities have received in the past, and sadly, continue to receive. The comments promoting the campaign were just a small taste of the love and support I have received and hope to receive in the future.
Through all the put-downs I have never once regretted my involvement with Special Olympics and Ban the R word. People have always told me, “Stand up for what you believe” and Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. This experience has taught me that if every person respected and agreed with what I had to say, I wouldn’t be doing my job. I wouldn’t be doing what my parents, and my world taught me to do. By winning this Lovin’ Scoopful award, I was given, not only a small taste of the real world, but a small taste of some pretty good ice cream!
The above post is submitted by Lovin' Compassion Award Winner Katie Pullano. Katie is a kind hearted beautiful young lady and it saddens us that someone as giving as Katie would endure criticism.