August 11th, 2009
09:46 AM ET

Eunice Kennedy Shriver's "Special" Legacy

Editor's Note: Eunice Kennedy Shriver died this morning at the age of 88 at a Cape Cod, Mass. hospital. She is the sister of former Pres. John F. Kennedy. former Sen. Robert Kennedy and current Sen. Ted Kennedy. She is survived by her husband of 56 years, R. Sargent Shriver Jr.; her five children; and her nineteen grandchildren.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/11/eunice.kennedy.shriver/art.eunice.shriver.afp.gi.jpg caption="Eunice Kennedy Shriver speaks at a dinner in honor of the Special Olympics in July 2006."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/11/art.eunice.shriver.special.olympics.jpg caption="The Special Olympics grew from Camp Shriver, a summer day camp in Shriver's backyard, where people with intellectual disabilities could explore their capabilities in a variety of sports and physical activities."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Eunice Kennedy Shriver is proof that one person can truly change the world. In 1968, Mrs. Shriver founded the Special Olympics, inspired in part by her intellectually disabled sister Rosemary.

Forty-one years later, there are more than three million Special Olympians in more than 150 countries. I'm proud to say my brother, Stephen, is one of them. He's one of three million people who now stands proud because of Mrs. Shriver. He's one of three million people whose life has changed for the better thanks to Mrs. Shriver. And, he is one of three million Special Olympians who has lost a dear friend.

Days ago, when it was revealed she was hospitalized, many people – including Special Olympians – began posting tributes to her on her web site.

Here are some of them:

Thank you so much. Because of you people like me are seen as valued not as incapable. -Karleigh Jones

Mrs. Shriver you have allowed me to reach for the stars, stand tall and proud to represent my country, my family, my village and myself. You have given hope and dignity and respect to us athletes and our families. – Mati Oren

You told me and showed me that I am a champion everyday of my life and that I have self-worth, which I never thought I had. – Faith

One woman inspiring millions. And, not just the athletes. But also their families. The volunteers. And everyone who has been to a Special Olympics.

One woman also changing attitudes. Respect. Acceptance. Opportunity. Value. Friendship. Love.

Mrs. Shriver showed us that no one should go without them.

One woman, one vision and millions of lives changed.

Thank you, Mrs. Shriver. Thank you for your "special" legacy.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    With the Special Olympics Eunice Kennedy Shriver touched a lot of lives during her lifetime and will continue to do so beyond her death. The ultimate lady and a shining example of showing compassion to others in a way that helps them and lifts them up. My deep condolences to the Kennedy family and my deepest gratitude to the Kennedy mantra of those who have much giving back to society much. Eunice was a classic example of it.

    August 11, 2009 at 9:25 pm |
  2. Kyle Watson, Barrow-in-Furness, England

    Rest in peace, an amazing lady who did amazing things for the world.

    August 11, 2009 at 9:23 pm |
  3. Tammy, Houma, LA

    Mrs. Shriver's gift and grace were undeniable. Her work broke barriers for all who face challenges due to physical, developmental, mental, or emotional issues. She helped the world to realize that different isn't a bad thing and that everyone is a winner regardless of what society says. As a visually impaired kid who grew up believing my only limitations were those I set, thank you Mrs. Shriver for helping create a world where it was o.k. for me to succeed.

    August 11, 2009 at 8:02 pm |
  4. Isabel • Brazil

    She came to earth and made a difference. She changed the world view in relation to special people. She did the world get better!

    Rest in peace!

    August 11, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  5. Kristi in kc

    The death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver should remind us all of one deep fact in this health care debate. Not everyone in this world is born with the same priveledge nor the same IQ capabilites as everyone else. There are those people who do not quite fall into the 'special olympics' catergory but who are none-the-less deficient and will never be able to keep a continuous job let alone pay for their own $400 a month health insurance premium.
    There will always be freeloaders and drug addicts who will abuse the health care system, but it does not mean that we should abandon the less fortunate because they are mixed in with the rest.
    Eunice was an icon of compassion and understanding.
    An inspiration.

    August 11, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  6. JoSunkari

    Eunice Kennedy Shriver , amazing woman who worked to make the world a better place. Thank you.

    August 11, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  7. Maria

    Another amazing Kennedy leaves a lasting legacy to this world. What a truly insprirational family they are-dedicated to public service and bettering the world, not just for their children/grandchildren but, for all of mankind. They are a true role models for what their Catholic faith instills–selfless service to others.

    May the Kennedy family be consoled with the knowledge that Mrs.Shriver is loved by millions and now at peace.

    God bless.

    August 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  8. Darci

    The excitement in the air when it is time for Special Olympics where I work is AMAZING!! Thank you for giving that to us Mrs. Shriver. You are an amazing woman who made a lot of lives better.

    August 11, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  9. Joanne R. Pacicca

    My condolences to her family. She was a great lady.

    August 11, 2009 at 9:52 am |