Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Activist / Political Relative

Born: 10 July 1921
Died: 11 August 2009 (Natural causes)
Birthplace: Brookline, Massachusetts
Best known as: The founder of the Special Olympics

Name at birth: Eunice Kennedy

Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the founder of the Special Olympics and a longtime advocate for the mentally disabled. Shriver was the middle child of nine in the family of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. It was a prominent and powerful Democratic family: brothers John, Robert, and Edward all became U.S. senators, and John was president of the United States from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Eunice Kennedy graduated from Stanford University in 1943 with a degree in sociology and took a job with the State Department during World War II. In 1957 she became head of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation (named for her brother), which worked on behalf of those with mental retardation. Shriver organized the first Special Olympics, which were held in 1968 in Chicago. She spent the next four decades expanding the Special Olympics and working in support of those with intellectual disabilities. She was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 for her work "on behalf of America's least powerful people, those with mental retardation." Late in life she was weakened by a series of strokes, and she died at Cape Cod Hospital near the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Extra credit: She married Sargent Shriver on 23 May 1953. He became a key campaign aide to John Kennedy in 1960 and was the first director of the Peace Corps. Sargent Shriver now reportedly suffers from Alzheimer's Disease... The Shrivers had five children: Robert III (b. 1954), Maria (b. 1955), Timothy (b. 1959), Mark (b. 1964), and Anthony (b. 1965). Timothy became Chairman of the Special Olympics in 1996... Maria became a journalist and married Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who later became governor of California... Eunice Shriver's interest in mental disability was sparked in part by the struggles of her own sister, Rosemary.

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