Remarks: 1981 World Games

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

International Winter

Special Olympics Games

March 10, 1981

Governor Snelling, Bob Skiff, Ray Mulcahey and members of the Steering Committee, parents, volunteers and athletes.

This is a marvelous day for Special Olympians. Today you come to Vermont as examples of the ideas and principles for which the green mountain boys fought so valiantly 200 years ago. Equality of opportunity, justice and the intrinsic value of every human being.

This is indeed a day of thanksgiving.

Thanks to the people of Vermont who have worked so long and hard to make these Games a success, especially your co-hosts, Vermont Special Olympics, Stow, Smugglers' Notch and Champlain College.

Of thanks to the public and civic organizations who have given you such overwhelming support.

Of thanks to you who are some of the finest skiing and skating instructions in the world -- who have given every ounce of their energy to help you sharpen your skills.

Of thanks to the 32 committees and the 2,000 volunteers.

But, most of all, I ask you to thank you parents. Every parent is called upon to make sacrifices in the name of love. But the parents of Special Olympians have done more. They have challenged the spirit of the times that says that only intellectual achievement is the measure of human life. I believe this is wrong. So do the parents. Their commitment is to the values that count and will endure -- skill, courage, sharing, and joy.

Today we stand in the presence of 7 medal winners in the Winter Olympic Games. They are among the best athletes the world has known.

Today they are here to salute you and honor you as their equals. For great world athletes like these, the contest may last only minutes. Then it is over and these men and women have either won or lost. But for you Special Olympians, the contest may last a lifetime, the challenge begins again each day. What you are winning by your courage is far greater than any game. You are winning life itself and in so doing, you give to others a most precious prize...faith in the unlimited possibilities of the human spirit.

For this we honor you today. You are true Olympians.

Congratulations and good luck!