Thursday, August 13, 2009
You've Got To Move It Move It
Eunice Kennedy Shriver understood this. In the early 1960s, she and her husband, Sargent, began to hold a series of day camps in their backyard in order to meet the physical fitness needs of mentally retarded children and adults. It was the beginning of what would eventually become a world wide physical fitness movement known as the Special Olympics, which today encompasses over 180 countries and three million-plus athletes aged eight to eighty. Every athlete who participates receives free training, coaching, and support to compete in 26 Olympic style sporting events. In the U.S. alone, over 500,000 volunteers and 250,000 coaches devote their time and energy to 54 chapters.
A few years back, I had the honor of writing a lead story for a now defunct local publication on New Mexico's Special Olympics program. During my research and interviews, I was awestruck by the dedication of hundreds of volunteers who help athletes of all abilities do what the human body was designed to do: find joy through movement.
Thanks, Eunice, for understanding this, and for your organization's motto, that we should all keep first and foremost in our brains as we go about our daily lives: "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
Eunice was laid to rest today, after 88 years of service to her causes. May she rest in peace eternally.