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Eunice Kennedy Shriver: 1921 - 2009

by Maggie O'Mara

Bio | Email | Follow: @maggiektvb7


Posted on August 11, 2009 at 6:30 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 22 at 11:10 AM

Eunice Kennedy Shriver


Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed away early this morning in a Massachusetts hospital, surrounded by her family. She was 88. She worked hard to empower people with special needs, and she founded The Special Olympics in 1968. 3.1 million people with disabilities now participate in 228 programs in 170 nations. Those of us who live here in Idaho had the opportunity to experience her incredible legacy, when we hosted The Special Olympics World Winter Games in February.


Eunice Kennedy Shriver wasn't able to come to Idaho for the Opening Ceremony due to illness, but her children Maria Shriver and Tim Shriver were here to represent her and her devotion to the movement. What an experience that was for all of us! Something we won't soon forget....

Even before launching The Special Olympics in 1968, she was an advocate for people with special needs, and fought for the rights of the disabled. In September 1962, Shriver wrote an article about her disabled sister, Rosemary, which was published in The Saturday Evening Post. Rosemary was her inspiration to start the Special Olympics...

Family Statement:


"It's hard for us to believe: the amazing Eunice Kennedy Shriver went home to God this morning at 2 a.m. She was the light of our lives, a mother, wife, grandmother, sister and aunt who taught us by example and with passion what it means to live a faith-driven life of love and service to others.

For each of us, she often seemed to stop time itself - to run another Special Olympics games, to visit us in our homes, to attend to her own mother, her sisters and brothers, and to sail, tell stories, and laugh and serve her friends. How did she do it all? Inspired by her love of God, her devotion to her family, and her relentless belief in the dignity and worth of every human life, she worked without ceasing - searching, pushing, demanding, hoping for change. She was a living prayer, a living advocate, a living center of power. She set out to change the world and to change us, and she did that and more. She founded the movement that became Special Olympics, the largest movement for acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in the history of the world. Her work transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe, and they in turn are her living legacy.

We have always been honored to share our mother with people of good will the world over who believe, as she did, that there is no limit to the human spirit. At this time of loss, we feel overwhelmed by the gifts of prayer and support poured out to us from so many who loved her. We are together in our belief that she is now in heaven, rejoicing with her family, enjoying the fruits of her faith, and still urging us onward to the challenges ahead. Her love will inspire us to faith and service always."

Eunice Kennedy Shriver: 1921-2009