Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics and a key figure in the political clan, died today at 88.
The statement from her brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts:
"Eunice is now with God in heaven. My sister Jean and I, and our entire family, will miss her with all our hearts. I know that our parents and brothers and sisters who have gone before are filled with joy to have her by their side again.
"My earliest memory of Eunice is of a young girl with great humor, sharp wit, and a boundless passion to make a difference. She understood deeply the lesson our mother and father taught us -- much is expected of those to whom much has been given. Throughout her extraordinary life, she touched the lives of millions, and for Eunice that was never enough.
"The seeds of compassion and hope she planted decades ago in her backyard summer camp were inspired by her love for our sister Rosemary. Over the years, she grew those seeds into a worldwide movement that has given persons with disabilities everywhere the opportunity to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. We would never have had an Americans with Disabilities Act without her.
"Though the Special Olympics will be her enduring monument, in our family she'll be remembered as a loyal and loving sister, a treasured wife to Sarge, and a wonderful mother and grandmother. We will miss her deeply and we will always love her and cherish the beautiful memories of our years together. She was blessed with a long life, but for us that time was still too short."
The statement from President Obama:
"Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Eunice was many things to many people: a mother who inspired her children to serve others; a wife who supported her husband Sargent in the Peace Corps and in politics; and a sister to her siblings, including brothers John, Robert, and Edward. But above all, she will be remembered as the founder of the Special Olympics, as a champion for people with intellectual disabilities, and as an extraordinary woman who, as much as anyone, taught our nation – and our world – that no physical or mental barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit. Her leadership greatly enriched the lives of Special Olympians throughout the world, who have experienced the pride and joy of competition and achievement thanks to her vision. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sargent; their children Robert, Maria, Timothy, Mark, and Anthony; and the entire Kennedy family."
The statement from Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts:
“Teresa and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Eunice personified the Kennedy family’s call to public service by championing the rights of the disabled through the Special Olympics. Her memory will live on through the millions of individuals who are leading meaningful lives because of her vision. She dreamed of a world which knew no barriers to those with intellectual disabilities, and she leaves behind a world much better than which she found it. Her mother’s favorite Bible passage was ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ Eunice lived all of her 88 years to that standard and raised her children the same way.
“She will be sorely missed. Our prayers are with Teddy, Jean, Sargent and Eunice’s entire family as they mourn her passing.”
The statement from Vice President Joe Biden:
"Jill and I are deeply saddened by the news of Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s passing. Eunice was one of those rare individuals whose energy and spirit were contagious. She inspired everyone around her to be better, to see beyond themselves, and to experience joy in life through service.
"Not long after her brother John became President in 1961, Eunice convinced him and their siblings to reveal a closely guarded family secret: that their sister Rosemary had an intellectual disability. I will never forget the groundbreaking and personal story she wrote about Rosemary for The Saturday Evening Post, in which Eunice brought to light the hidden lives, and the amazing untapped potential, of people with intellectual disabilities.
"But that was only the beginning. Starting in her own backyard in Maryland, she opened summer camps all over the country so that young people with intellectual disabilities could engage in sports, make friends, and demonstrate to themselves and others what they were capable of — if only given the chance. And in 1968, at the first Special Olympics World Summer Games in Chicago, what was to become a global movement was born. Today, thanks to Eunice and countless other dedicated individuals she inspired, Special Olympics serves over 3 million athletes with intellectual disabilities in every corner of the globe.
"Even that was not enough for Eunice. Special Olympics — her creation — today provides not only sports opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, but also supports families, provides health screenings and services, educates and engages youth around acceptance and tolerance, and leads a cutting-edge research agenda aimed at improving the well-being of this population.
"And yet that is only part of the extraordinary legacy Eunice leaves us. There is also her marriage of 56 years to Sarge — the love of her life and her life’s partner in their work to engage young people in service. That work spread across the globe, but it started in the Shriver home. Eunice and Sarge infused a deep commitment to service in their children — Bobby, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony — each of whom continues her fight to give voice and power to the poor, disenfranchised, and forgotten segments of society around the world.
"Our hearts are heavy but full of gratitude for these lasting gifts. Our thoughts and prayers are with her children, their father, and the entire Shriver and Kennedy families."
The statement from Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine:
“Americans around the country today are mourning the death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Eunice was a wife, a mother, a sister and a member of one of our country’s most famous families, but she will be remembered most as the founder of the Special Olympics, an organization which has given millions of children with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in competitive sport. The first Special Olympics in 1968 drew 1,000 participants from 26 states and Canada – today the program has grown to include more than 3 million people from 180 countries. This achievement is thanks to Eunice’s vision, persistence, hard work and call to public service. Though she never held elected office, this extraordinary woman was a champion for the power of the human spirit. Our thoughts are prayers today are with Eunice’s husband, Sargent, their children, and the entire Kennedy family.”
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.