Eunice Kennedy Shriver: An Extraordinary Architect of Change
  • Architects of Change

08/10/09 | The Women's Conference | 15 Comments


Eunice Kennedy Shriver with her grandchildren at The 2007 Minerva Awards
Eunice Kennedy Shriver with her grandchildren at The 2007 Minerva Awards

Please visit for a look back at Eunice Kennedy Shriver's lifelong dedication to the Special Olympics.

Statement from The Shriver Family

It's hard for us to believe: the amazing Eunice Kennedy Shriver went home to God this morning at 2 a.m. 
She was the light of our lives, a mother, wife, grandmother, sister and aunt who taught us by example and with passion what it means to live a faith-driven life of love and service to others.  For each of us, she often seemed to stop time itself -- to run another Special Olympics games, to visit us in our homes, to attend to her own mother, her sisters and brothers, and to sail, tell stories, and laugh and serve her friends.  How did she do it all?
Inspired by her love of God, her devotion to her family, and her relentless belief in the dignity and worth of every human life, she worked without ceasing -- searching, pushing, demanding, hoping for change.  She was a living prayer, a living advocate, a living center of power.  She set out to change the world and to change us, and she did that and more.  She founded the movement that became Special Olympics, the largest movement for acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in the history of the world.  Her work transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe, and they in turn are her living legacy.
We have always been honored to share our mother with people of good will the world over who believe, as she did, that there is no limit to the human spirit.  At this time of loss, we feel overwhelmed by the gifts of prayer and support poured out to us from so many who loved her.  We are together in our belief that she is now in heaven, rejoicing with her family, enjoying the fruits of her faith, and still urging us onward to the challenges ahead.  Her love will inspire us to faith and service always.
She was forever devoted to the Blessed Mother.  May she be welcomed now by Mary to the joy and love of life everlasting, in the certain truth that her love and spirit will live forever.


Eunice Kennedy Shriver

The 2007 Women’s Conference Minerva Awards

Part 1

Part 2


Learn more about why we honored Eunice Kennedy Shriver with a Minerva Award in 2007.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver demonstrated passionate commitment and dedication as the honorary chairperson of Special Olympics International, which she founded in 1968. Through her vision, courage and tireless work, today more than three million athletes are training for the Special Olympics in all 50 states and 181 countries. Learn more about Mrs. Shriver's commitment to the Special Olympics at


Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Founder of Special Olympics:





















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  • I just heard the news of your uncle's passing and wanted to send our condolences to you and your family.

    Posted by Emergency, 1 September 2009.

  • I am very grateful to this post. Thanks for sharing your nice experience.

    Posted by sunaina, 1 September 2009.

  • What a wonderful role model Mrs. Shriver was for women all over the world. She lives on through the wonderful legacy she left for her family and all the rest of us too! My prayers are with your family! Sincerely, Janet Taylor Velasco

    Posted by miracle534, 1 September 2009.

  • Dear Maria,
    I just heard the news of your uncle's passing and wanted to send our condolences to you and your family.
    I found out about the Women's Conference through Paula, Erin's sister, and was lucky enough to attend and will attend again this year with my sister and another friend. I know from listening to you last year how incredibly strong you are, but I wanted you to know that there are thousands of people just like me who are wishing you peace, strength and comfort as you go through journey of your mother's and now your uncle's passing.

    Thinking of you and your family,

    Kim Saunders

    Posted by Yogamomma, 26 August 2009.

  • We must look at people with mental disabilities as angels that have been sent to us by God. They lead us towards kindness, patience, tolerance, and are the reason we must fight for justice, acceptance, love and respect of ALL humankind. God Bless Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her legacy, and may she rest in peace.

    Posted by Marie Nayet, 14 August 2009.

  • Mattel is deeply saddened at the recent news of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Ms. Shriver's noble vision became one of the most transformative social movements in our history - the Special Olympics. With a fundamental desire to treat all individuals with dignity and respect, the Special Olympics has touched the lives of millions and transformed the lives of even more children with intellectual disabilities. Her courage and compassion will continue to live through the Special Olympics movement and we look forward to continuing her legacy through our support of Special Olympics youth programs globally.

    We will always remember the day she received the Minerva Award, and we will be forever inspired by her work and vision.

    Graciela Meibar

    Posted by Graciela Meibar, 13 August 2009.

  • Thank You for the gifts you have given to the world.
    We were blessed with your presence.
    Your faith and endurance inspires us all.

    Posted by Jeanette, 13 August 2009.

  • I have on my desk a piece of paper with a list of inspirational messages Eunice Shriver has delivered. "Believe in possibilities", "We can all make a difference and we should all try", "Use the pain you experience to develop the confidence that is needed, belief that is required and the strength that is critical to make a positive change"
    You said in one of your speeches "go find a family", I did and I feel you are a very important member. I miss you, I will remember you and more importantly, I will continue to carry one of the many torches you passed on to those you so inspired.

    Posted by Nancy Webster, 12 August 2009.

  • I am so fortunate to have grown up in a world influenced by her enormous grace and compassion. When people have trouble believing in God they never have trouble believing in people like your mom. God counts on folks like her to be Ambassadors of his encouragement and to teach us to trust in the power of doing good. Jesus said, What you do to the least of my bretheren, that you do unto me. If God is love and love is the healing power of the universe then your mom role modeled that love is a verb. Actions speak more faith than words. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. The planet will not be the same without her here. AND her spirit lives in you...Her words live in you...Her demand for dignity and compassion have framed your being. She will never be far away. Blessings to you and yours.

    Posted by Elaine Suranie, 12 August 2009.

  • Your mother was courageous, she was eloquent, and when she had a passion she pursued it relentlessly. I was fortunate. I was a student who worked at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center in Waltham in the 70's, after which I worked at the Joseph P. Kennedy Memorial Hospital for Children. I saw the reality of putting your heart, your money, and your influence towards a purpose. It is 30 years later, I never stopped listening to your mother. I never stopped believing in rolling up your sleeves, being gracious but not complacent.
    I continue to develop a comprehensive program to bring a quality inclusion of life skills to students with significant disabilities, I write letters for those who can't, I push for better programs, more inclusion, and health quality for those who are too fragile. I joined the Junior League for women and children who had no voice, I joined the National Charity League with my daughter to instill the vision of women making changes for themselves and others with grace and power.
    It came from those years when a very shy speech pathologist was working with students, and your mother came up to me and shook my hand, thanked me for being a pioneer.
    I hope I have earned her respect and I have honored her.
    So in your grief and your loss of your mother, I hope you take some small comfort in knowing someone very shy listened and said, okay I will find a voice because somebody has to speak for those who are the most vulnerable.
    I wish you peace,
    Heather Logan Weiler

    Posted by mainegirl9171, 11 August 2009.