I don't think any of us truly believed we'd ever lose Mrs Shriver. A force of nature, she challenged limitations and defied boundaries her entire life. She will be remembered for her strength, her achievements, and for her deep, loving humanity.
The first time I saw her powerful influence in action was when my son won a medal in his first Special Olympics event. Marveling at the medal on the car ride home, he said in a small, awestruck voice, "I am a winner." In that moment, he forever redefined himself and his place in the world as he saw it. It was a gift of such magnitude it changed his life and our life as a family.
And it's that moment that meant the most to me, the one that came to mind and that I held in my heart as we said goodbye to Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
It's been said that people won't remember what we did, or what we said. They will remember how we made them feel. Because of her work and her words, Mrs. Shriver made millions feel like winners.
She also made us feel powerful, as she changed our world in wonderful ways. Watching her, we felt we each had the power to make a difference. We were right, and our contribution to positive change can be counted as part of her legacy.
Mrs. Shriver made us feel accepted. She saw tremendous value in the hearts and lives of everyone, and spent her life sharing that vision with the world. She showed us that differences are to be celebrated and appreciated and that dignity is every individual's birthright.
Mrs. Shriver made us feel inspired. From the special athletes she championed to the people who cheered them on in competition, to everyone who ever heard her speak so passionately, and especially those of us who had the privilege of working with her, Mrs. Shriver gave us all permission to dream big...and then challenged us to dream bigger still.
She was also a wife and mother who made sure her family knew they were the true center of her universe. She loved them above all else and, despite her tireless work for others, found a million daily ways to show it.
Everything she did, everything she said, and everything she achieved came from her heart. It was true, it was authentic, it was powerful. And we were blessed to have her in our lives.
Thanks to Mrs. Shriver, countless young people and their families are winners. We know we are special to the world we live in. Generations of people continue to follow her example, contributing their time and talents to an endless list of causes and communities to help create the world they want. And the flame of the Special Olympics burns brightly, never to be extinguished.