Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics

August 11, 2009 4:56:15 PM PDT
Eunice Kennedy Shriver's work touched lives here in Houston and all across the world. Shriver died early Tuesday morning at a Cape Cod hospital. She had suffered a series of strokes in recent years.[SPORTS BLOG: Read the latest from the Eyewitness Sports team]

Kennedy Shriver is best known as the founder of the Special Olympics. As KTRK's Sports Director, I have worked closely with the Special Olympics here in Houston and served six years on the state board of directors.

It was 1968 that Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics because her sister Rosemary was mentally disabled. Mrs. Shriver started the Special Olympics to give folks like her sister year-round sports training and athletic competition and a chance to feel a sense of pride and belonging.

She was the fifth of nine children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, her siblings being former President John Kennedy, and Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy. Her daughter is Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger, the first lady of California.

Kennedy Shriver was involved with a number of projects to help the disenfranchised, but none more meaningful to her than the Special Olympics.

One of my most special memories happened in the late 1980s. Mrs. Shriver was attending the state Special Olympics Games in Austin and asked to meet me for breakfast one morning at 7:30am at the hotel we staying in to discuss the Special Olympics in Texas.

Sitting across the table from her for that hour, I saw a combination of charm, grace, warmth, compassion and drive. It was those qualities that have shepherded the Special Olympics growth to over 3 million athletes in 170 nations.

She saw to it that those who drew a short straw in life had a chance to have pride in themselves and achieve. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was 88 years old.

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