I am deeply saddened by the news of Eunice Kennedy Shriver's passing. Eunice--inspired by her sister Rosemary--devoted most of her adult life to helping young people with disabilities reach their highest potential. Eunice understood that every young person can achieve when given a chance.
Eunice and her husband Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. opened their home to hold summer camps, so young people with disabilities could engage in sports, develop friendships and show what they could do. These camps spread across the country and led Eunice to found the Special Olympics. In 1968, the first Special Olympics World Summer Games were held in Chicago. Today, thanks to the work of Eunice and many individuals she has inspired, Special Olympics serves over 3 million athletes with disabilities in every corner of the globe.
The U.S. Department of Education is providing $8.1 million in support to the Special Olympics this year through grants, which help individuals with disabilities engage in sports training and competitive activities, leading to improvements in the quality of life.
Eunice and Sargent Shriver made it their life's work to engage young people in service and passed that commitment on to their children. As we work to bring about education reforms, we look to the inspiration of extraordinary people like Eunice Shriver to guide us in providing an education that allows every child to reach their full potential in life.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Shriver and Kennedy families.