By Chris McGuinness

Killeen Daily Herald

When Audie Murphy Middle School teacher Karen Wall's and her seventh- and eighth-grade students had to come up with a community service project, they chose a topic that was very close to Wall's heart.

"We decided on a theme for this year, and (the theme) was start something big," said Wall. "We wanted to do something really exciting."

The 40 students whom Wall works with as part of the school's Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program decided they would create a "Stop the 'R' Word" awareness event, which would show others why they should not use the word "retard."

"(The students) wanted to show people that when they use that word, they are disparaging and lowering an entire group of people," said Wall, who has two children with special needs. "They want to make people more aware about the words they use, and how powerful words can be."

Wall's and her students partnered with the Centex Champs, a baseball league for special-needs children and young adults, to develop the event.

"We all worked together to brainstorm on the best way we could promote awareness and educate people," said Scott Yearwood, the founder of Centex Champs. "I think we came up with a pretty exciting event."

The rally will begin with a motorcycle run, which will start in Nolanville at Kay's Motorcycle Mania Sunday morning, and end at Schoepf's Old Time BBQ in Belton. The event will continue at Schoepf's with a presentation by some of Wall's students, and musical performances by Doc Dockery, Hedley Grange, 7 Years Today and Wally West and Them Lostbound Souls.

Wall said she was surprised at the warm response from many of the bands and the event sponsors.

"They are donating their time, so we were able to make the event totally free," Wall said. "My kids were so excited to see what a great event this has turned out to be."

Contact Chris McGuinness


If you go

What: Stop the "R" Word Awareness Rally

When: Sunday

Where: Motorcycle run starts at noon at Kay's Motorcycle Mania, 103 S. Main Nolanville and ends at 4 p.m. at Schoepf's Old Time BBQ, at 702 E. Central Ave. in Belton.

Presentations by students and musical performances will take place at Schoepf's Old Time BBQ in Belton from 3 to 8 p.m.

or (254) 501-7568.

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