Eliminating the R-Word

North Texas teen takes stand against the use of the word "retarded"

By Sara Story
|  Thursday, May 12, 2011  |  Updated 5:54 PM CDT
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Spencer MacKenzie, 15, is on a mission to get rid of the

Sara Story, NBCDFW.com

Spencer MacKenzie, 15, is on a mission to get rid of the "R" word, and he's getting some support for college football coaches.

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A North Texas teen is on a mission to get people stop using the word "retarded."

Spencer Mackenzie says the word is degrading. The 15-year-old is part of a national campaign to end use of the word, and he is asking college football coaches across the nation to take a stand.

Mackenzie said he is inspired by his sister, Tobi. She was born premature, and doctors said she would never  walk or talk.

"They said she would just pretty much be a vegetable for the rest of her life," he said. "She walks, talks, has friends. I think everyone can learn something from someone."

He said he learned a lesson in middle school that he would never forget.

"One day, she came home, and one of her friends had called her retarded," Mackenzie said. "So, that really stuck with her, and I could see how much that hurt her and affected her."

"When Spencer came to me with the story about his sister -- what a natural thing it is for a football team, to tie in with sending a positive message using the 'R-word' the right way -- respect," said Dan McCarney, University of North Texas football coach.

McCarney is one of the college football coaches taking a stand against the "R-word." He said his dream is to reach out to all of the NCAA teams.

"I recently just got Kansas State football  team on board with the 'R- word' campaign, so that was pretty awesome," he said.

"I want Spencer on my coaching staff one day, I'll tell you that much, because his energy, his juice and maturity is way beyond his age," McCarney said.

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