Remarks: 1989 World Games

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Remarks at Opening Ceremonies


Winter Special Olympics Games

Sunday, April 2, 1989

Good afternoon!

Governor, Senator Townsend, members of the International Special Olympics Committee, guests on the speakers platform, parents, coaches, special education teaches, volunteers, and I have something special for you athletes:

I'd like you to say after me:

"I am proud to be a Special Olympian!"

All together now: "I am proud to be a Special Olympian!"

That was great!

Here you are on the trails of the 1960 Olympics Games where Penny Pitou and Betsy Snite won silver medals for American and where the great Jean Veaunet won for France. You have the same excellent mountain crews who staged Olympic and World Cup events. You have many of the same officials. You have network television. You have world class entertainment. And, best of all, we have good fresh snow for our skiers. You know, we've only had winter games for ten years.

Yes, it was only ten years ago - in Steamboat Springs - that the first International Winter Special Olympics Games took place. At those Games, there was only one entry for skating. That's right - only one person. Today, ten years later, there are 150 entries who qualified after rigorous competition at the state and national levels. Not only that, but these gains, with 1400 competitors and twice as large as the 1960 World Olympic Games. I say we give you all another cheer!

My friends - if 20 years ago, the world's greatest leaders had been asked to design the most effective way to establish friendships across national, racial, cultural, and political barriers, they never would have dreamed of creating Special Olympics.

But here we are, and you can be proud that together we are uniting the world and the great countries represented here and in all the other 70 countries which now participate in Special Olympics:

From Canada to Norway.

From Japan to Argentina.

From Jamaica to Hong Kong.

Volunteers, parents, brothers and sisters, you can be proud too. You have brought all of us to this mountain today. You have knocked down isolation and prejudice.

Not with political clout, but with heart. Not with money, but with personal sacrifice. Where there was despair you have put hope. Where there was doubt - faith. Where there was sadness - joy.

Athletes. When you return to your homes, challenge our neighbors. Say to them, be a part of our Special Olympics world. Join our basketball teams, our bowling teams. Our volleyball teams. Train with us. Ski with us. Skate with us. We know how good we are. We have our records to prove it. So, have courage. We will even teach you!

Good luck athletes!

Be proud!

Be champions!

And again, say with me once more:

"I am proud to be a Special Olympian!"