Sunday, August 16, 2009

We grieve the death of ‘Eunice Kennedy Shriver’, the founder of Special Olympic. May the torch of love move on…..

“The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community” wrote Eunice Kennedy Shriver in a hotel meeting room nearly 40 years ago..

Hundreds of mourners descended on Massachusetts on Friday (14Aug09) to pay their respects to ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER's mother-in-law EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER, who died earlier this week on 11th of August 2009.

Celebrities including Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder and TV titan Oprah Winfrey turned out for the funeral of the mental disability campaigner, as well as the actor-turned-California governor and his wife Maria Shriver,

The sister of former U.S. president John F. Kennedy passed away aged 88 after a short stint in hospital. Her health had dramatically deteriorated in recent years after a series of strokes.

To commemorate Shriver's role as the founder of the Special Olympics, disabled athletes lined the streets of Hyannis, Massachusetts with torches as her four sons carried the coffin to the Saint Francis Xavier Catholic church - the building where the Terminator star married Shriver's daughter Maria in 1986

Eunice Shriver, whose older sister Rosemary was mentally disabled, wanted every special needs child to have the best possible life, to live without fear. She wanted to change people's perceptions, wanted the world to understand the gifts and capabilities of this group she called "her special friends."

Coming from a family, the Kennedys, for whom sports were so important, she had a vision of the good that competition could bring to special needs kids. She took on a task that was Olympian and she turned it into something as grand as the Games in Athens, or Beijing, or Lillehammer.

She traveled the world to spread the word. She dived into pools, slapped mustard on sandwiches, hugged and hustled around the planet, showing the way for millions of families who were looking for a better quality of life for their challenged children.

One thousand athletes competed in the first Special Olympics World Games in Chicago in 1968. In Shanghai in 2007, there were 7,500. There now also is a World Winter Games.

From its modest beginnings, Special Olympics is in more than 180 countries and serves 3.1 million athletes. Special Olympics of Washington, incorporated in 1975, after a visit to the state from Shriver, serves 7,000 athletes.

"At a time when people were being told to put their special needs kids in a home," said Shelby's sister Lexie, a student at Western Washington, "Eunice Shriver was more than willing to say that, 'Yes, I have a sibling with special needs and I want to make her life better, rather than ignore the problem and pretend it isn't there.' I find that very, very inspiring."

Her son Timothy Shiver writes “My mother has always been about hope, love and opportunity. Love being the most important. For what do we have, if we do not have love? Hope for helping us through each day when life challenges us. And, opportunity that each one of us is empowered to create to make the world a better place. My mother believed in these things so strongly and they have played a major role in her life, especially, her work with people with intellectual disabilities.”

Shriver de-stigmatized disabilities. She gave Special Olympics athletes a transformative sense of accomplishment. She changed the world view of mental retardation.

“To this day, the mission of Special Olympics is rooted in the values of hope, love and opportunity. To create an opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities where they can compete, experience success and showcase their talents to the world. To create a community of hope and welcome for the athletes and their families where they can experience joy and acceptance. And, to let others share in the love and joy that comes from the athletes so openly and unencumbered. That is the essence of my mother's vision” says her son, Timothy Shiver.

May the torch of love move on and brighten the lives of differently abled children.


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