A remarkable Solon High School senior is teaching a lesson in tolerance.
Thousands are expected to attend 17-year-old Justin Bachman's "Tolerance Fair" this weekend, reaching out to anyone who believes they are different.
Wise beyond his age, Bachman preaches empowerment, awareness, and acceptance for those with physical, mental or behavioral issues to create a better community.
"Because of my Tourette Syndrome, a medical condition that causes me to have movements, twitches and outbursts, when I was in 8th grade I was disqualified from a cross country meet because the officials didn't understand my condition. That was a breaking point for me," Bachman said.
Bachman says he never wanted to face anything like that ever again. He also knew he was not the only one dealing with intolerance like that.
"I thought if I could educate people in my community about the differences that everyone has, what happened to me won't happen to everyone else," he said.
From there, the Tolerance Fair was born. First held at the Solon Recreation Center four years ago, this year they're expecting thousands at the Wolstein Center for the conference, workshops, keynote speakers, and exhibitors.
Organizers will provide strategies and resources to improve self-worth, and increase tolerance and acceptance of self and others.
"We got a call from a girl after our first Tolerance Fair. Before she had been cutting herself, was depressed, didn't know where to turn. But after she met up with a group, she was no longer cutting herself, no longer depressed and was starting to look at colleges. And we saw we were able to make a tangible difference in the life of one person, we knew we needed to continue doing it," said Bachman.
He and his "Honor Good Deeds" non-profit invite parents, caregivers, teachers and students to attend with an open mind and open heart.
"I challenge anyone who thinks that they're alone in the differences that they have to come to the tolerance fair because we will prove you
wrong," Bachman said.
The conference runs from 9 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, May 3.
The cost for pre-registration is $15 for teens and $35 for adults. Cost at the door is $25 for teens and $45 for adults.
Click here for more information.
And click here for more information on 19 Action News' campaign 2 Strong 4 Bullies to find out how you can take a stand against intolerance.