Eunice Shriver: Michelle Obama To Honor The Special Olympics Founder


Former first lady Michelle Obama will honor late Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver, sister of John F. Kennedy at the 2017 ESPY Awards on Wednesday in Los Angeles, ESPN announced.

Michelle Obama will be presenting Eunice Shriver with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, which will be given to her son, Timothy Shriver.

Talking about the Late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, “she was a passionate champion for those with developmental challenges, empowering them to fulfill their highest potential,” Obama said in a statement. “Her work to promote inclusion and acceptance transformed the lives of countless young athletes and inspired us all. I am incredibly honored to present this award to her son to celebrate her life’s work.”

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Eunice Shriver, who died in 2009, was the sister of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy. She founded the Special Olympics in 1968.

“My mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was a visionary, but, more importantly, a revolutionary,” her son said when the award was announced. “Fueled by love and anger, she used sport to break down the barriers, she used fields of play to bring people together, and she opened the doors of inclusion and equality to the most marginalized on Earth. It is now up to all of us to follow the athletes of Special Olympics who can teach us all to accept and include each other.”

Eunice Shriver
Eunice Shriver with Special Olympics Team

Kennedy Shriver’s Special Olympics organization began as Camp Shriver in 1962 and was born out of her bond with her sister, Rosemary, who was mentally disabled. The Special Olympics now has more than 5.3 million athletes worldwide.

However, when we talk about Shriver’s political career, she actively campaigned for her elder brother, John, during his successful 1960 U.S. presidential election. In 1968, she helped Anne McGlone Burke nationalize the Special Olympics movement and she is the only woman to have her portrait appear, during her lifetime, on a U.S. coin – the 1995 commemorative Special Olympics silver dollar.

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Further, she was a life achiever, while she was alive she championed many courses and was recognized for her efforts and achievements. Shriver was a longtime advocate for children’s health and disability issues and other people with intellectual disabilities. She formed many organizations whose mission is to continue to cater for the kids and those with intellectual disability. Shriver was a key founder of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), a part of the National Institutes of Health in 1962. She has also helped to establish numerous other university programs, government initiatives, health-care facilities, and support and support service networks throughout the country.

She has received the highest civilian award, U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 by U.S. President Donald Raegan. In 1990, she was also awarded an Eagle from the United States Sports Academy. The Eagle Award is the Academy’s highest international honor and was awarded to Shriver for her significant contributions to international sport.

In 1992, she received the public service medal for benefitting the disadvantaged, an award given annually by Jeffersons Awards. For her work in nationalizing the Special Olympics, Shriver received the Civitan International World Citizenship Award.

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Shriver received the 2002 Theodore Roosevelt Award (the Teddy), an annual award given by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

In 2006, she received a papal knighthood from Pope Benedict XVI, being made a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (DSG) and in 2008, the U.S. Congress changed the NICHD’s name to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in her honor and many other awards and recognitions.

She was the second American and the only woman who has appeared on the U.S. Silver coins while she was still alive. She also received countless honorary degrees from numerous Universities.

Eunice Shriver will be the ninth posthumous recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and second consecutive. Zaevion Dobson, a former high school football player who died after saving two girls from gunfire, was the recipient in 2016.