We will soon be celebrating the 5th Annual Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day on September 27, 2014. As you may remember, I wrote a blog last year about the historical importance of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Special Olympics. I want to reference that blog so everyone can gain a better understanding of why we commemorate this visionary woman!
In June of 1962, Eunice started a day camp for children with intellectual disabilities called "Camp Shriver" in the backyard of her home in Potomac, Maryland. She had an older sister named Rosemary who had an intellectual disability, and in the late 1950's and early 60's, Eunice saw little justice in the way people with ID were treated. As an athlete in college, she saw that sports could be a common ground to unite folks from all walks of life. The idea behind that first Camp Shriver began to grow, as Anne McGlone, a physical education teacher and recipient of a Kennedy Foundation grant, also had an idea for a one-time Olympic-style athletic competition for people with special needs. Burke approached Shriver to fund the event, and Shriver encouraged Burke to expand on the idea. At the 1968 games held in Chicago, Illinois, Shriver announced the formation of the Special Olympics, and over 1,000 athletes from across the U.S. and Canada participated.
While we are saddened by Eunice Kennedy Shriver's passing in 2009, we began celebrating our founder's remarkable achievements, beginning in 2010 with the first global Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day which is held in more than 100 countries by more than 4 million Athletes. She was unique in her time, as she saw individuals and not their labels, and saw their abilities, not their disabilities. Today, just as much as in the 1960's, we continue the challenge of pushing beyond labels to give all Athletes the opportunity and support to achieve more than we ever thought possible.
Join me in spreading the word to celebrate Eunice Kennedy Shriver's life and important contributions on Saturday, September 27th, the 5th Annual Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day. Please take this day to honor the importance of the Special Olympics in your life by celebrating the theme of "Play Unified to Live Unified."
Lebanon County Special Olympics Athlete Liaison
(Co-written by Shannon Kirk)