Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And then there were two

Eunice Kennedy Shriver's death early Tuesday morning leaves now just two siblings of the famous Kennedy family.

Out of nine children, only Jean Kennedy Smith and Sen. Ted Kennedy are still living. And the longtime Massachusetts senator is ailing with cancer.

Shriver, 88, was called the "moral force" of the Kennedy family. Shriver founded the Special Olympics in 1967 and was inspired in part by the struggles of her mentally disabled sister, Rosemary.

She was given much credit, and rightly so, for de-stigmatizing mental retardation. Thanks to her efforts, no longer were they seen as social outcasts and misfits, but real children who had real problems, but more importantly, they could realize real successes and real happiness if treated in an inclusive manner.

Realizing the children were far more capable of sports than experts said, Shriver organized the first Special Olympics 41 years ago in Chicago. The two-day event drew more than 1,000 participants from 26 states and Canada.

By 2003, the Special Olympics World Summer Games, held that year in Dublin, Ireland, involved more than 6,500 athletes from 150 countries. The games are held every four years.

Shriver's famous son-in-law is California governor and former actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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