Friday, January 30, 2009

A Super Bowl, a Towel, and What They Mean for People with Disabilities

This Sunday, whether you're cheering for the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Arizona Cardinals -- or, like me, don't really care -- you should feel good when you see hundreds of thousands of "terrible towels" being waved in support of the Steelers. The tradition of the towels was started in 1975 by longtime Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope, who died last year at age 79. Cope trademarked the towels, sold every year as "Myron Cope's the Official Terrible Towel" for $7 each.

The reason you might care about this story is because in 1996 Cope turned the trademark over to the Allegheny Valley School, a Pennsylvania network of campuses and group homes for 900 people with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. Cope's 41-year-old son, Danny, has been a resident in one of the homes since he was a teenager in 1982. “He’s never spoken,” his sister Elizabeth said. “Which is kind of funny, because Dad is known for his voice. It’s almost like the Terrible Towel is Danny’s silent voice.”

The school has received more than $2.5 million from sales of the towels since 1996, and a Super Bowl win by the Steelers could increase sales considerably. Read the New York Times article.
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