Remarks: 2007 World Games

Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Remarks at The Special Olympics World Summer Games

Shanghai, China

October 2007

Thank you

Distinguished Guests

As so many of you know, I have spent my life really interested in only one thing, and that one thing is working with all of you to make the world a better place for people with intellectual disabilities. That's what still inspires me today. It inspired me to work on research when I was young, to create sports camps, to start Special Olympics, to join with my son Anthony in Best Buddies, to ask political leaders for more education, health care, housing and acceptance. This is my work. So I thank you all for joining me in it!

Some of you might ask why?

For me, the answer is faith, hope, and love.

I was taught by my wonderful mother and father that faith was the most precious gift of all. And they taught me that to care for others was to live the gift of faith. I believed them, and I believe in faith today.I was taught by a cruel and unforgiving world that too many people are forgotten and that I had to believe in hope. Even today, I believe in hope, and I believe in the mothers and fathers of people with intellectual disabilities who are examples of hope.

I was taught by my brothers and sisters to believe that the love of family was a precious gift. And in a special way, my sister Rosemary taught me what it meant to love one's family and to look out for one's sister. And I love Rosemary and all my 8 brothers and sisters, and I believe in love today.

Finally, I have been taught by my amazing journey on this planet to believe that we can find the faith and hope and love that we seek for ourselves in each other. I have seen it happen over and over again:

I have seen the faith of a mother who gives her life so her child can be proud and happy and welcome. And in return, I have seen her receive faith back a hundred fold.

I have seen the hope of a student who gives her time to be a friend to a person with intellectual disabilities. And in return, I have seen her receive hope back a hundred fold.

I have seen the love of a volunteer who gives his time to play sports with a person with intellectual disabilities. And in return, seen him receive love back a hundred fold.

All of these lessons, however, are not for the past. They are for today and for the future. I thank all of the noble and generous people of China for believing in these values. Here at these World Games, you have created the greatest celebration of history of Special Olympics. 39 years ago in Chicago, I dreamed of a day like this. You have given me the gift of a dream come true.

But most importantly, I ask that you remain believers for many years to come.I ask you to continue to make health care more available to those who do nothing more than ask, "Can I see a doctor?"

I ask that you continue to make education available to those who do nothing more than ask, "Can my child go to school?"

I ask that you continue to make jobs and housing and friendships available for those who do nothing more than ask, "Can I join my community? Can I have a chance? I want to make a difference too!!"

We dare not pause or flinch for the world is ready to tell us to abandon hope, reject faith, scoff at love. We know better, for in the end, we have our proof. It is the athletes of Special Olympics here assembled. They are the proof of faith and hope and love. We know their greatness. We know their power. We have seen and felt faith, hope, love, and this is the world we want to live in! This is the future we want to build! This is the place of joy!

So let the cynical and the fearful have their narrow view, but let us choose life to the fullest. So please join me in celebrating the extraordinary athletes, from so many corners of the world who have come here to be with us. And please join me in doing all that we can, as a single global community, to build a world worthy of them.

I ask you with all my heart to stay close to their vision for years and decades to come. I promise to stay with you in this adventure of the heart. And I know you will find great joy and endless rewards along the journey.

Thank you.