Explore How Eunice Shriver’s Vision Became the Special Olympics

Posted by Ernie K. on 3/12/21 5:37 PM

For Women’s History Month, join Ernie Kyger—resident Lifestyle Blogger and Diversity and Inclusion Council Member—in exploring the life experiences that motivated Eunice Shriver.

Key takeaways:

  • Eunice Mary Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on 10 July 1921, the fifth of nine children of Joseph Patrick and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.  She is the sister of President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert Francis and Edward Moore Kennedy. 

  • Eunice had a sister named Rosemary, who had an intellectual disability.  Rosemary was institutionalized with tragic results.  Eunice was deeply affected by this. 

  • Eunice believed that if people with intellectual disabilities were given the same opportunities and experiences as everyone else, they could accomplish far more than anyone ever thought possible. 

  • In 1953, Eunice married Robert Sargent Shriver, and in 1957, she took over the direction of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation. 

  • In 1962 Eunice and her husband invited young people with intellectual disabilities to a summer day camp they hosted in their own backyard. It was called, "Camp Shriver." The goal was to explore the children's skills in a variety of sports and physical activities. 
  • The idea behind that first Camp Shriver began to grow. In July 1968, the first International Special Olympics Games were held in Chicago.   

  • What began as one woman's vision evolved into Special Olympics International—a global movement that today serves more than 6 million people with intellectual disabilities in 200 countries. 

  • Eunice passed away in 2009.  Today, the Kennedy and Shriver families carry on with the Special Olympics. 

Topics: Around the Community

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