"What a great moment for me, my son, the world. What you have made possible for so many people defies all reason." LOWELL WEICKER, JR.
Former United States Senator
Eunice Kennedy Shriver
Press conference on
1970 International Special Olympics
Mayor Daley's office, Chicago, Illinois
April 30, 1970
Remarks for Mrs. Shriver
For: Press Conference Announcing 1970 International Special Olympics
Mayor Daley's Office, Chicago, Illinois
10:30 am, April 30, 1970
Two years ago, Mayor Daley and I stood here and announced the first national athletic event ever staged for the mentally handicapped. The city of Chicago and the Kennedy Foundation invited parents and teachers and institution workers to bring their retarded youngsters to this city to compete in a track and field and swimming meet - the Chicago Special Olympics. Over one thousand youngsters competed in those games on July 20, 1968.
The joy and the taste of success which those one thousand children found in Soldier Field that day was the beginning of a new life, not only for them but for thousands of other handicapped youngsters. People returned home and talked of the wonderful experience here in Chicago. They began working to provide that same experience for all their retarded children. The Kennedy Foundation created a national organization to help states to establish local and state meets. Today 47 states have organized their own state meets. Over 1,500 communities have established Special Olympics programs. During 1970, 150,000 retarded youngsters will participate in Special Olympics programs including in Canada and in France.
The work for these programs is almost 100% volunteer. This last year some 50,000 professionals, laymen and businessmen contributed millions of man-hours to Special Olympics.
Many of our volunteers are famous athletes or celebrities. People like Rafer Johnson, Don Adams, Stan Mikita and Peggy Fleming. Captain Jim Lovell was our "head coach" for the games here in 1968 and is on the Board of Directors of the National Special Olympics organization. I just saw Captain Lovell recently when he visited Washington to testify on the Apollo 13 mission. One of the first things he asked me was "Mrs. Shriver, what are we going to do in Special Olympics this year? I want to help again."
So you can see that because this city and in particular, the Chicago Park District, - was willing to pioneer with something that had never been tried before - Special Olympics has now become one of the most exciting national programs for the retarded to come along in a good many years. In fact, the program is now truly international. Special Olympics are being held in three Canadian provinces this year and in three provinces in France. Nine youngsters will be selected from the French games and flown here to Chicago in August to compete in the International Special Olympics.
Mr. Mayor, on behalf of these thousands of youngsters, their parents, and their teachers, I want to say "thank you" to you, to the Park District and to the people of Chicago for providing the beginnings of this great effort two years ago and for once again, acting as host to the International Special Olympics. We are really delighted to be back in Chicago.