A Letter from Special Olympics District of Columbia

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The athletes, family members, volunteers, staff and Board of Directors of Special Olympics District of Columbia mourn the departure of Eunice Kennedy Shriver from this life. Her extraordinary vision and unyielding commitment to persons with intellectual disabilities were the traits in her personality which led her to create one the most impactful organizations the world has ever seen --the Special Olympics Movement.

I first met Mrs. Shriver when I was coaching a semi-professional basketball team in the State of Rhode Island. In 1986, she flew me to Washington, DC, my hometown, and asked me to become her International Director of Basketball. Three years later she requested that I become the Executive Director of Special Olympics DC. In my twenty-three years, Special Olympics has spread across the globe, and it has forever changed thousand of lives in the District of Columbia. One of those individuals is my brother who lives in a group home in the District, and is a former Special Olympics athlete.

Words fail to convey the emotion felt when you see the competition and camaraderie of athletes striving for their personal best...thriving from the physical, psychological, emotional and social progress seen in people who participate in the sports, fitness and strength training, health and wellness programming built into every aspect of Special Olympics.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver has been honored with a medallion on the National Volunteer Pathway here in Washington, DC. On it her words illuminate our movement and guide our mission.

"Special Olympics athletes are spokespersons for freedom itself--they ask for the freedom to live, the freedom to belong, the freedom to contribute, the freedom to have a chance. And of all values that unite and inspire us to seek a better world, no value holds a higher place than the value of freedom."

We would like to thank Mrs. Shriver for providing opportunities through Special Olympics that touch the lives of millions of people around the world, intellectually disabled as well as non-disabled individuals. We are all now the torchbearers of her legacy.

Steve Hocker

Executive Director

Special Olympics District of Columbia