I will never forget meeting Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver after being upset about my race in Los Angeles in 1972. My coach at the time told me that she had started all of this--meaning Special Olympics. Nor did I know that the woman I met would change my life! It was at a time of my life that I didn't think that I would ever be much of anything because society also thought the same of people like me. But because of what you, Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, did by giving me a chance to believe in myself through sport took the anger, hurt and fear out of me. I have learned to accept myself and to be my best. And I know Special Olympics was the best medicine.
Today I am proud because someone gave me a chance and believed in me and more than 3 million people like me who have intellectual disabilities. Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, thank you for making a difference. Thank you for making a difference and our world better through your endless sharing, caring and fighting for our rights. You have given most of your life and been devoted to so many people around the globe through what you started--Special Olympics.
Special Olympics Athlete
Loretta Claiborne is one of the most accomplished and celebrated of all Special Olympics athletes. Competing in more than 26 marathons, Claiborne received the 1996 Arthur Ashe Award for courage on ESPN's "ESPY" Awards show. Additionally, she holds an honorary doctorate degree from Quinnipiac and Villanova Universities. Claiborne, a member of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, is a passionate advocate for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. In May of 2001, she traveled with film star Arnold Schwarzenegger to South Africa, joining former President Nelson Mandela to bring awareness of the benefits of Special Olympics to the entire continent and to recruit new athletes as a part of Special Olympics' global growth campaign. Claiborne's life was the basis for a Wonderful World of Disney docu-drama film called "The Loretta Claiborne Story" and in 2004 she was featured in the tribute book SuperWomen: 100 Women, 100 Sports.