Solon teen Justin Bachman has organized a second Tolerance Fair, this one a much larger event scheduled for Sunday at the I-X Center.
The Tolerance Fair will run from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. on March 10. Both admission and parking to the event are free. The keynote speaker will be Kyle Maynard, who was born without his lower arms and legs but has still accomplished much, including climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro unassisted.
Justin has come far since a fateful cross country meet in 2010. Bachman, who has Tourette's syndrome, was harrassed by a referee at that meet because of a misunderstanding over some of his vocal tics associated with Tourette's.
Justin did not allow that unfortunate experience to deter him. In 2011, Justin organized a first Tolerance Fair in Solon to spread his message of understanding. With the help fo the city, especially Mayor Susan Drucker, Justin and his family brought together a forum of groups to provide visitors with a forum to learn about others and how everyone can work to understand what other people are going through.
Justin is now 15 and a 10th grader at Solon High School. He is a motivational speaker. Just last week, he spoke to six different groups.
Justin said he did not have plans to do a second event until he received a call about a year ago from a woman who had visited the first tolerance fair. That woman had a daughter who cut herself, and she came to the fair looking for help. She connected with a group that has since helped her daughter.
"That was the call to push us to say: 'We have to do this,' " Justin said. "We have to do it again to help other people."
Justin said Sunday's Tolerance Fair will have at least 129 groups that offer a variety of services, and the fair will provide people the opportunity to find places to get help or to help out themselves.
"It's a great story and it's, unfortunately, something that's needed," said Ron Bachman, Justin's father. "People were looking for how to get involved and how to help."
Cities all over Northeast Ohio, at the urging of Solon Mayor Drucker, have issued proclamations declaring Sunday as a day of tolerance and understanding. The Bachman's know of 14 proclamations already, and expect more in the coming days.
Justin said the last few years have helped him become a leader and follow his calling of helping others.
"Whether I wanted to or not, I've been forced to grow up," he said. "There's not a second where I can crawl back in and expect someone else to do this. It's made me a much better person learning what other people are going through."
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE 2013 TOLERANCE FAIR: