First Strike Ceremony

Remarks by Eunice Kennedy Shriver

At the "First Strike" Ceremony for the

1995 Special Olympics World Games Commemorative Coin

U.S. Mint, Philadelphia

May 2, 1995

Thank you, Governor Weicker, for those generous remarks.

When I see Governor Weicker, I see a human being who has dedicated his life to the highest ideals of politics.

Today we are being told we cannot trust politicians-that they are inept and interested only in their schemes.

My family was brought up to believe that politics is an honorable profession, and public service the highest commitment.

Governor Weicker is that rare person-male or female-who, in a life dedicated to public service, has filled almost every possible position that public life has to offer:

-- Mayor of Greenwich at 25

--A member of the State Legislature

--A member of the U.S. House of Representatives

--A United States Senator

--Governor of the Great State of Connecticut.

He has received many awards, including the John F. Kennedy "Profiles in Courage" Award for his commitment to the highest ideals of politics. And he has received awards for his work on behalf of people with mental retardation and people with disabilities.

Governor Weicker, you are a winner!

I am also honored that one of America's great artists is responsible for the creation of this beautiful coin. I should probably include "young"-but that suggests we may have to wait for the ages to recognize to his genius-and Jamie Wyeth is already recognized in his own time and on his own merits!

Jamie generously donated his valuable time and ability to make this coin a collector's jewel. I thank him for his contribution of love to the Special Olympics family.

My family have been enormously supportive with their love and talent.

Sargent, my wonderful husband, who, from the beginning, has supported me in all my endeavors and, today, gives thousands of hours and travels thousands of miles, to bring hope to so many Special Olympics families around the world.

My son Bobby is responsible for the production of two tremendously successful Christmas record albums that provide grants and funding for Special Olympics programs in every region of the globe.

Bobby has worked hard, too, on raising awareness of our special friends through the international television shows he has produced.

I am happy to see my daughter Maria, for she has educated her many friends in the television and entertainment worlds of the needs of people with mental retardation.

She has anchored many shows that have focused on their needs and her efforts have placed a powerful spotlight on the achievements of Special Olympics athletes.

Mark has served on the Board of Maryland Special Olympics, and he and his wife Jeanne are working hard with parochial schools to bring students with mental retardation in to full inclusion within the education system.

Anthony, through his "Best Buddies" program, works tirelessly in 150 colleges around the United States and overseas to create lasting friendships between students and people with mental retardation.

My son-in-law, Arnold, has been a leader in the development of the Special Olympics powerlifting program around the world. Whenever he travels he encourages people to participate in Special Olympics.

So well known is his love for Special Olympics that when I visit high schools to talk about our programs, I have students say to me: "Yes, Mrs. Shriver, we will volunteer-and when does our autographed picture of Arnold arrive?

But this year belongs to my third child, Timothy. It is one thing to have yours on working for you; it is quite another to be working for him!

Timothy told me, as he grew up, and I quote: "I never see enough of you, Mummy. You are always at Special Olympics Games."

Now I know what he means-whenever I try to talk with him, I rarely get through-he is away at a Special Olympics event somewhere.

It was Timothy, supported by his wife, Linda, who launched this unbelievable miracle of putting on the largest and most innovative Special Olympics World Games in history-and in the small town of New Haven supported by one of America's greatest universities.

Now the miracle is taking place. Timothy and his team have worked for months and months to ensure the success of these games, so, Timothy, thank you for your energy and leadership.

I am full of admiration and deeply grateful to Kim Elliott who has worked so hard on getting this coin through the Congress-and is now working equally hard to make sure it is sold out.

I am also deeply grateful to Bob Fiorella of Phoenix Home Life who has committed to buying one of these coins for every athlete, coach and official attending the 1995 World Games.

What a magnificent gesture!

This coin is also for the volunteers.

For the first time in Special Olympics history, we will have over 45,000 volunteers at our World Games-and through this coin they will realize that they can serve others with compassion and generosity and love.

As volunteers, they will share gifts they never knew they had-and they will continue to share them long after the 1995 World Games have faded into memory; as coaches, as teammates, as friends.

For money, no matter how valuable, is not the stone upon which Special Olympics has been built. Rather, the cornerstone is the spirit of the athletes, the spirit of their families, the spirit of the volunteers. It gives me great pleasure to introduce one of those great athletes.

Today, she participates in several Special Olympics sports. In 1991, she won a gold medal in the half marathon, in 1983 she won two gold medals.

She has run more than 25 marathons, with a personal best of 3 hours and 3 minutes in 1981. She was named United States Olympic Committee "Female Athlete of the Year" in 1988, and she is the first Special Olympics athlete to serve on the International Board of Directors for Special Olympics.

Loretta Claiborne embodies the indomitable spirit of Special Olympics.

I am proud to introduce a champion for our time-and my friend-Loretta Claiborne.

Thank you.