Remarks: 1983 Games Opening Ceremonies

Address by Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Opening Ceremonies 1983

International Summer Special Olympics Games

Baton Rouge, Louisiana LSU Campus

July 12, 1983

What an unforgettable night this! Four years of hard work have made these games possible. Thousands of volunteers have served on committees, have raised money, organized housing, arranged transportation, planned events, even cooked food - all under the inspiring leadership of Emmanuel Bourgeois and Bill Bankhead.

To Manny Bourgeois and Bill Bankhead: to Governor Treen and Mayor Screen; and to all the Louisiana volunteers I say: "You deserve laurel wreaths of victory. Special Olympians worldwide salute you and thank you for your magnificent achievements."

Special Olympians: it is right and good that you are here. You are extraordinary human beings. The world has taken to heart your shining example of striving against all odds.

Like Gina Holt, of Oklahoma, who conquered blindness to excel in gymnastics. Like Colin Bailey, of New Zealand who struggled for ten years to learn to swim and then this year, won the gold medal in his country's National Games. These are rare and brilliant achievements but every athlete here tonight has been a winner. Each of you has earned a place on your national team.

Each of you is here because of your spiritual strength, your excellence and your athletic achievements. The light of your lives now illuminates the ancient values of these games--skill, courage, sharing, and joy. In you we see the best of our own humanity and by your presence here, you honor us more than we can ever honor you.

World Olympians: it is also right and good that you are here. We salute your accomplishments. But tonight you are here to honor the Special Olympians. To celebrate their courage. To pay tribute to their gifts. You and we know that all world records of speed and strength will someday be surpassed. But the records of Special Olympians for courage and character will stand unchallenged for all time.

Twenty-five hundred years ago, Olympics athletes were called to competition with these words and I quote:

"If you have practiced hard for the Olympics. If you have not been lazy or dishonorable - then go forward with confidence." Athletes, you are ready. Go forward with confidence. You are worthy of the name Olympians.

Buena suerte. Bon chance. Gambatte kudasai. Powodzenia. Good luck, Olympians!!

Thank you.