Bicycle races are coming your way…. (How the times have changed)

Bicycle Long ago (long, long ago) when I was 12 or 13, my friend Sue and I participated in a Bike-A-Thon. We met up with a couple of friends Joe and Ron, who were also participating. I remember it being a lot of fun with the exception of Susan smashing into and ruining Ron’s bike gears. We had so much fun that we went around the route twice (much to the dismay of the people who pledged by the mile – I was young; this did not occur to me at the time).

For years afterwards I tried to remember what this Bike-A-Thon was for. What cause were we supporting? No one I asked could remember either. As an adult, when I think back on it, yes we had fun, but I am horrified that this organization thought it was okay for a bunch of 12 and 13 years olds to ride their bikes down these very busy main roads. It was not like it is today, roads were not closed or even sections roped off. We were on our own on these very busy main roads, most with no sidewalks or shoulders, until we came upon a check point. But this is the way it was. We didn’t think a thing about it back then.

Well, Susan was cleaning out her mother’s attic a week or two ago and found the actual map of the course we took on this Bike-A-Thon and on it was the name of the Bike-A-Thon.

Backing up for just a minute. This morning I read an article that had the R-Word in the title. It was a good article and I wanted to share it (I eventually did), but I was so apprehensive about the R-word in the title. It needed to be there, it really did, but I am so uncomfortable with it that I really thought a lot about it before sharing it.

Having said that, below is the map that my friend found. She was just as apprehensive about sending it to me as I am sharing it here. Bike-A-Thon My heart skipped a few beats when I first saw it. I sat on it for a few weeks, but I thought that if you are as appalled as I was (and still am) at reading the name of the Bike-A-Thon, then let’s look at it as a glowing example of how times really have changed. It is so hard for me to believe that back then, this and a few other words I am guilty of using as a child were just okay. We didn’t know any better back then. Now we certainly should know.

I have gotten into plenty of discussions over the use of this word. Most of the discussions have been with people who really didn’t understand what the problem was as long as they were not using it to disparage someone with a special need – but they ARE! They are using it as slang for “stupid”. They are taking a word that was once used as an actual diagnosis and using it to describe “stupid”. I really don’t get why this is so hard to explain to people.

A version of this article was published on The Mighty – When an Old Flyer Reminded Me How Far We’ve Come With the ‘R’ Word

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11 thoughts on “Bicycle races are coming your way…. (How the times have changed)

  1. Wow–what a moving article! I understand why the word was in the title quote. And I agree–let’s look at this as a chance to say, “Wow–we’ve come a long way.” Beautifully written!

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    • Thank you. I could not believe it when I saw the photo. My poor friend really didn’t want to send it but we had spent so much time trying to remember what it was for, she had to. Yes, I believe we have come a long way – still some work to do, but isn’t here always?

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      • I do not one hundred percent agree that at that time it was not okay but my only objection is that originally the word meant slow and was commonly used for slow. Also the medical term was ¨mentally retarded.¨ Thus meaning mentally slow and so they used it in a wrong term in the first place. That is a big problem with trying to re-define a word that was already slang.

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  2. Pingback: Blog Titles…. Don’t ya know that I love my music? | Taking it a Step at a Time - Autism

  3. Great post! Things have definitely changed, even in the past few years. I recently saw a textbook that used “mental retardation” to describe people with down syndrome. I saw that the book said “copyright 2007” on it, which prompted me to look up when “mental retardation” was officially changed to “intellectual disability.” I found articles dated from 2007 to 2013, the most official-looking ones being from 2010. It seemed very possible to me that it was not an official change when the book was published. It’s interesting how much things have changed in just a few years!

    Also, thank you so much for linking to that article! I did see a version on The Mighty a while back that had a title that made it a bit clearer what the context of the r-word was, but I think the one you posted was fine too, because it was in quotes. Here is the other article if you want it: http://themighty.com/2015/04/a-man-called-my-son-retarded-one-stranger-wouldnt-stand-for-it/

    Liked by 1 person

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