Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed away August 11, 2009. Inspired by her own sister’s story, Shriver was a leader in opening minds and opening doors for people with developmental disabilities at a time when intellectual disabilities were hidden and not discussed.
A statement issued by her family states that she “set out to change the world and to change us, and she did that and more.” In July, 1968, Eunice Kennedy Shriver convened the first Special Olympics Games only a few weeks after her younger brother, Robert, was assassinated in Los Angeles. That day she spoke before a crowd outnumbered by athletes representing only 26 states and Canada. Today, Special Olympics athletes from 181 countries compete in games highlighted around the globe.
“The right to play on any playing field? You have earned it.
The right to study in any school? You have earned it.
The right to hold a job? You have earned it.
The right to be anyone’s neighbor? You have earned it.”
-Eunice Kennedy Shriver – 1987 Special Olympics World Games
Shriver was awarded the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 in recognition of her work on behalf of those with developmental disabilities. Hers was a lifetime devoted to the service of others – a relentless and powerful advocate for the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. Her legacy extends well beyond the success of Special Olympics and the individual lives she touched. Her passionate belief in the dignity and worth of every human life is our shared belief, and her struggle to highlight capabilities instead of disabilities is at the heart of our mission at PRIDE Industries.