Celebrating our differences - that's one of the takeaways from the Fourth Annual Tolerance Fair and Conference that was held today at the Wolstein Center. In some cases, this event has had the power to save lives.
As a group of young people with special needs performed Fleetwood Mac's song, "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow,” in the middle of the fair, the reality is that many who are bullied have a hard time keeping that in mind.
That's part of why Justin Bachman started the Tolerance Fair and Conference. He speaks around the country about being proud of who you are and showing it off to others.
"Fifteen represents the number of times I've had a student come up to me or reach out saying they had either a suicide plan they were going to put into action that night, and after hearing my story wanted to know how they could get help as well," said Bachman.
Bachman, who has Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder, knows what it's like to be misunderstood and mistreated - even by adults.
"This all started because of a cross country meet I was disqualified from, in eighth grade. I started with a list of fifteen
charities I wanted to get together to educate in my community, and it's grown to a full day conference that we are bringing in teachers and students and parents and families to learn."
Jake Conder, from Olmsted Falls has a brother with autism. He came here to look for support and empowerment.
"I personally think that it's the differences in everybody that makes things fun and unique - that the really important thing to realize about all this is that everybody is different," said Condor.
Keynote speakers like David Coleman, known as “The Dating Doctor,” were here to show students and teachers how to get help, and how to live a purpose driven life.
"Where they see someone in need, and even if they can't help them in that moment, they might text, tweet, make a phone call, and an hour later someone is helping that person," said Coleman.
The bottom line message of it all from Bachman: Be confident. Love yourself.