Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver Leaves Lasting Legacy

Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed away today at the age of 88. She was most known as President John F. Kennedy’s sister, Maria Shriver’s mother, and the founder of a life changing, incredible legacy that has touched millions: The Special Olympics.

Ms. Shriver was an amazing woman who, instead of using her privilege and influence to hold luncheons or tea parties, worked herself at the ground level to affect change. Her many accomplishments and accolades include:

1957: Took over as director of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, which was founded in memory of the family’s oldest son who was killed in WWII. The Foundation sought the prevention of intellectual disabilities and to improve the lives of those who lived with them.

1961: After John F. Kennedy was elected president, they created a Presidential committee on retardation.

1962: Camp Shriver was created at her farm in Massachusetts after she heard from families who could not find a camp for their intellectually disabled children.

1968: Founded the Special Olympics.

July 20, 1968: Opened the First International Special Olympic Games at Chicago’s Soldier field.

1981: Developed the “Community of Caring” concept, which put the core values of caring, respect, responsibility, trust, and family into schools across the nation.

March 24, 1984: President Reagan awarded Ms. Shriver with the highest honor attainable by a civilian, the Presidential Medal of Freedom

2006: Pope Benedict XVI bestowed upon her the title Dame of the papal Order of St. Gregory the Great.

2008: US Congress changed the NICHD’s name to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

2009: The Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in D.C. unveiled a portrait of her, which was the first portrait the National Portrait Gallery has ever commissioned of an individual who has not been President or First Lady.

The Special Olympics is more than an athletic event where people with disabilities are able to compete in sports… it has been a movement that has allowed millions of the developmentally disabled to live fulfilling, mainstream lives that would not have been possible without the tireless advocacy of Eunice Kennedy Shriver.