LOVELAND - When Dan Rutter went to attend his son's basketball game at the opposing Campion Academy Cougars Thursday night, he did not expect to be shocked during the halftime show.
"He said that the mascot didn't have a name. So, tonight he was going to call him, 'Retard'. Other parents looked at me and I looked at them and said did we just hear him say that?" Rutter, parent from Eagle Ridge Academy in Brighton.
Campion Academy is a Seventh Day Adventist private school near Loveland. Don Reeder is the Dean of Men for the school and Rutter says he also serves as the announcer for the basketball games. Rutter says during halftime, over the public address system, Reeder used the offensive term to refer to the new costumed Cougar mascot.
"If he said it one time, you think okay, he made a mistake," Rutter said. "But, he used the word a half a dozen times."
Nationally, the Special Olympics have launched a campaign to get people to "Stop using the R-word" because it is derogatory. On its website, more than 413,000 have pledged to stop using the "R-word" altogether.
Campion Principal Spencer Hannah says he talked with Reeder on Friday. Hannah says Reeder told him he was just trying to make friendly insults in a funny way towards the student dressed in mascot costume because they have a good rapport with each other.
"He's the Dean of the school," Rutter said. "This is not just a word that you use and especially in front of 100 or so students. By him saying it, he's saying it's okay to use that word. I just thought it sent a bad message."
A message opposite of what national campaigns are trying to spread. Across the country, a number of states have already made changes to their laws removing the terminology "mentally retarded" from its regulations. Colorado has yet to make a similar change.
Thursday afternoon, Reeder issued this statement, "I understand that my comments during halftime of the game between Eagle Ridge Academy and Campion Academy offended many. The verbiage directed at our own mascot was insensitive, inappropriate, and wrong. I should not have made those comments."
The statement closes with the line, "I am very sorry for what I said and to all who heard these comments. I want to apologize."
Friday afternoon, Campion Academy also sent letters to its own school community and to Eagle Ridge Academy with apologies. Principal Hannah says the school needs to be responsible and "own up to its mistakes."
"I'd like to see that the guy realizes he made a mistake and just doesn't do it again," Rutter said.
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