One year ago this Wednesday, August 11th, the visionary Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics International founder, Best Buddies International board member, and champion of all people with intellectual disabilities passed away.
On the anniversary of her passing, Special Olympics, Best Buddies and people across the world join in celebration of her life and legacy and look towards the first-ever "Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day" (EKS Day) on September 25th which will promote a global call for people to commit actions of inclusion, acceptance and unity for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver devoted her life to fighting for the rights of those with intellectual disabilities. She believed everyone deserves respect. She opened her home, she coached and above all, she was a friend. She demonstrated an indomitable spirit in action. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day message calls for people to continue these acts of inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities, in essence to "play on" Mrs. Shriver's legacy. The fourth Saturday of September will be an annual event to celebrate her life and impact and to share her story to inspire new fans to action and unifying communities around the world.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day has been created in her honor to inspire people to experience her legacy and embrace the movement she founded more than 42 years ago in her backyard.
There will be three key components to honoring her legacy:
"PLAY: A day of sports, training clinics and sports activities to commemorate Eunice Kennedy Shriver's belief in building greater equality through organized athletics.
"JOIN: An effort to share her life and impact and to educate people about the urgent needs of people with intellectual disabilities and to motivate new fans and friends to act.
"BUILD: A regional effort to dedicate new or renovated athletic facilities in Eunice Kennedy Shriver's honor in the poorest communities.
Hundreds of events will take place on September 25th all over the world to honor Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Some of the notable events include:
"FIFA Football for Hope Center in Namibia will be dedicated in Eunice Kennedy Shriver's name
"Unified Sports® events with Mother Teresa's Sisters of Charity in Calcutta and Delhi, India
"Special Olympics Camp Shriver events will be held in East Timor, Haiti and Malaysia
"U.S. Soccer Foundation field dedication at the Washington, D.C Friendship Charter School
"Special Olympics Healthy Athletes screenings for those with intellectual disabilities will take place in over 20 countries
"This day will bring a hopeful future of inclusion and action that will build communities throughout the world," shared Special Olympics Chairman and CEO, Timothy P. Shriver. "All of these act and events are not merely an honor to my mother's great legacy but they are also about embracing the movement she started to inspire new fans to get involved. I can only hope that this day becomes an annual celebration of people demonstrating their willingness to accept and include people with intellectual disabilities."
"My mother's lifelong commitment to people with intellectual disabilities taught me that there is no greater joy in life than the joy that comes from contributing your time and energy to the enhancement of another person's life," said Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies Founder and Chairman. "So, I cannot think of a more fitting way to celebrate her life and legacy than to encourage acts of volunteerism that will teach people to see their peers with intellectual disabilities as classmates, as teammates, as colleagues, as friends - and most importantly - as equals. Ultimately, I hope that this day will put us one step closer to the world she envisioned; a world in which people with intellectual disabilities are fully integrated into society."
For more information or to share your Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act of Unity, visit www.eksday.org. All of the many global Eunice Kennedy Shriver Acts of Unity that have been pledged to date can also be found at that website.
More than 200 million people worldwide have intellectual disabilities, making this the largest disability group worldwide. Intellectual disabilities cross racial, ethnic, educational, social and economic lines, and can occur in any family.
About Special Olympics Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more nearly 3.5 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in places like China and from regions like the Middle East to the community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood's backyard. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.
About Best Buddies Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to more than 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Today, Best Buddies seven formal programs - Colleges, High Schools, Middle Schools, Citizens, e-Buddies®, Jobs and BUILD - engage participants in 46 countries, positively impacting the lives of 700,000 people with and without disabilities, as well as their respective network of family, friends, and employers. As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. For more information, please visit www.bestbuddies.org.
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Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.