ADVERTISEMENT

Special Olympics' Shriver leaves a flourishing legacy

Eunice Kennedy Shriver opens the first Special Olympics Games in Chicago in 1968 / Image: Special Olympics
Eunice Kennedy Shriver opens the first Special Olympics Games in Chicago in 1968 / Image: Special Olympics
More than 100 people attended a touching private service this morning for Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder and heroine for Special Olympics. Shriver’s legacy with her work and support for Special Olympics touched the lives of millions.

The solemn service was held at Saint Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Special Olympics was born literally in Shriver’s own backyard in 1962 when a desperate mother sought her help for a summer camp for her own child with mental retardation. She took up the challenge herself and set up a summer camp free of charge at Timberlawn, the family estate in Maryland, where she even personally carried out swimming lessons.

In July 1968, she opened the first edition of Special Olympics at Soldier Field in Chicago and launched a movement that would give the intellectually disabled an athletic competition that would grow like wildfire.

Last year on the 40th anniversary of this first event, Sports Illustrated honoured her with the Sportsmen of the Year Legacy Award. The movement had exploded from a few hundred athletes then to nearly 3.1 million athletes worldwide participating in 228 programmes in 170 nations on all continents.

Shriver is also the only woman to ever have her portrait appear during her lifetime on a US coin, the commemorative 1995 Special Olympics silver dollar.

Not only did she understand with compassion the needs of the intellectually disabled, but she also found a perfect way through sport to give them a vehicle for hope and enhance their lives and this has resonated through their families, friends and fans.

Shriver leaves a flourishing legacy that will enrich the lives of many for generations to come. She is survived by Sargent Shriver Jr, who managed President Lyndon Johnson’s War On Poverty in the 1960s, her daughter Maria Shriver who is California’s first lady, and sons Robert Sargent Shriver III, Timothy Perry Shriver, Mark Kennedy Shriver, and Anthony Paul Kennedy Shriver. Maria’s husband and the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, himself is a strong advocate of Special Olympics.

Since her passing, according to latest information released by Special Olympics, media response has also been overwhelming:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her brother President John F. Kennedy at the bill signing / Image: Special Olympics
Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her brother President John F. Kennedy at the bill signing / Image: Special Olympics

Web:

- Over 103,500 people have visited www.eunicekennedyshriver.org and have viewed 827,000 pages. Over 2,800 people have posted personal tributes posted to the website.

Social Media:

- "RIP Eunice Kennedy was a top 5 Trending Topic on Twitter for approximately 9 hours on Tuesday.

- "RIP Eunice Kennedy was the number 2 topic, with Special Olympics as the number 3 topic for approximately 90 minutes.

- Numerous Tweets and re-Tweets of personal messages from celebrities and luminaries were received, including Lance Armstrong, Sarah Brown (wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown), Chris Cuomo, Paula Abdul, Marlee Matlin, Steve Case (Chairman and CEO, Revolution, Co-Founder, America Online, and Chairman, The Case Foundation).

- The Special Olympics Facebook page gained 1,300 fans in only one day.

Media:

- 7,132 television stories have been broadcast.

- The number of local, national and international print media and radio stories is too large too count this time.

Tributes:

Personal letters of condolences and tributes have come in from celebrities and world leaders, including statements from US President Barack Obama, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Oprah Winfrey, and leaders from around the globe.

Sports Features Communications®
© Copyright 2012 NetIndian. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of NetIndian content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of NetIndian Media Corporation. Write to info[AT]netindian[DOT]in for permission to use content. Read detailed Terms of Use.