Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Leaving a Legacy: Eunice Kennedy Shriver

g276258ece22427b82e72a86d14f7f585b6e38dd1cb8b6cI am at a bit of a loss today about the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Ms. Shriver was a courageous woman who fought tirelessly for the dignity of persons with disabilities. 

She truly transcended politics for the common good (President Reagan gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom) and achieved more good for more people than just about any political or business leader over the last 50 years. [AP photo / Washington Post]

As a rule, I try not to get personal in my posts but her efforts touched me personally and I would be remiss if I did not tell this story. While I was at the Naval Academy as a brash 18 year old, I got in trouble for some infraction or another and was sentenced to the “yard” (which was basically marching in a square for hours at a time). In lieu of the traditional punishment, I was given the choice of coaching a Special Olympian during a local meet and happily agreed.

Special_OlympicsOn the day of the Olympics, I went down to the event happy that I had gotten out of punishment and wanting to fulfill my obligation so that I could get back to my life. Little did I know what awaited me…a young girl named Sarah who had a soul as bright as the Sun. Sarah was a wonderful athlete and won almost every match and it was a joy just to see her compete.  As she was getting in the car to head home, she poked her head out the window and said “I love you” in a way that reminded me about what is really important in the world. I have never forgotten her and I never will.

Ms. Shriver, thank you for making a difference in my life.

Outside of that, any further words I can write about her are inadequate. To read more about her legacy, one can find some wonderful pieces on her by J.Y Smith at the Washington Post, Harold Pollack at the New Republic, and Jack McCallum from Sports Illustrated. ~BAA