Damian Lillard Visits Wilsonville High School To Launch The Second Year Of 'Respect' Program

Star Guard Challenges Students and Staff to Put Pledge into Action

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PORTLAND, Ore. (January 10, 2014) – Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard visited the students and staff at Wilsonville High School today to tip-off the second year of the “Respect, Pass it On” program.

Joined by representatives from Special Olympics Oregon, Les Schwab Tire Centers, adidas and the Trail Blazers’ front office, Lillard spoke at the all-school assembly about the importance of standing up for the rights of others. The NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year also shared life experiences that led him to become an advocate for anti-bullying.

The “Respect, Pass it On” program launched in early 2013. Lillard, the Trail Blazers and their partners encourage everyone to take the Respect Pledge on the team’s website. To date, the program has garnered more than 6,000 pledges. On Friday, Lillard challenged everyone to take the next step: put the pledge into action and share the story on the Trail Blazers website.

“I was blown away with all of the positive reaction the Respect Program received when it debuted last year,” said Lillard. “Based on the number of responses, it shows that people truly do care about sticking up for one another. I think it’s important to share how the Respect Pledge has been put into action, and publicly recognize some of the heroes in our community.”

Individuals whose stories leave the biggest impression will be invited to an upcoming Trail Blazers game as Lillard’s guest. The team will also show its appreciation by highlighting those stories through a variety of ways.

Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) has been promoting respect throughout the state for the past five years. Wilsonville High School is one of more than one hundred schools, in collaboration with SOOR, to foster inclusive and respectful school communities.

Special Olympics Oregon athlete Travis Koski, who competes in year-round SOOR sports, joined Lillard on stage at Wilsonville High School. Koski explained how SOOR’s respect program helped him find acceptance and build new friendships, as well as gain the confidence to try out for high school athletic teams. As a result, he now competes on Century High School’s soccer team. Lillard and Koski each signed their names on a large banner representing both the SOOR and Trail Blazers respect programs.

Lillard is personally involved with Special Olympics as a Global Ambassador. He also helped coach the Special Olympics Unified Sports Game during the 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, Texas.