Eunice Kennedy Shriver

About Eunice Kennedy Shriver

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics in 1968 because of her passionate conviction that persons with intellectual disabilities of all ages could participate in and benefit from competitive sports.

Though many experts were opposed to the idea of competition for persons with intellectual disabilities, Shriver was convinced that these individuals could be athletes. With proper training and practice, they could learn to run a race, throw a ball, swim, and play a team sport. She believed they could experience, for the first time in their lives, how liberating it is to train and to learn, to realize their potential, and to be a winner.

She was confident that the lessons learned through sports would translate into new competence and success in school, in the workplace, and in the community. Above all, she wanted the families and neighbors of people with intellectual disabilities to see what these athletes could accomplish and to rejoice in their victories.

Once ignored and neglected, hidden at home or isolated from the community, people with intellectual disabilities have gained respect and acceptance because, through Special Olympics, they reveal their virtues and display their gifts.


About Eunice Kennedy Shriver (EKS) Day

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day is an annual celebration of her life and a global call challenging everyone to Play Unified, Speak Unified and Live Unified. This invitation stems from Mrs. Shriver's teaching that on the playing field, we forget about our differences and recognize our mutual humanity.

On EKS Day, we invite you to join us in playing unified and teaching the world to live unified. As founder of Special Olympics and executive vice president of the Joeseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a leader in the worldwide struggle to improve and enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities for more than five decades. Eunice Kennedy Shriver's actions helped open the minds of all people to the gifts and talents of individuals with intellectual disabilities. She believed in their possibilities which fuel hope in all of us to make a difference. Eunice Kennedy Shriver demonstrated an unrelenting indomitable spirit in action that one person could make a difference and change the world. Her lasting legacy must be our continued commitment to improve and transform the lives of the nearly 200 million people worldwide with intellectual disabilities who still live with diminished opportunities and social disrespect, and are often neglected and hidden away.

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