I remember meeting Eunice Kennedy Shriver in the fall of 1982 at her office in Washington, D.C. It was to be the first of many meetings and events with her over the next 27 years. I was there to share with her my thoughts regarding Law Enforcement involvement with Special Olympics. As the meeting progressed, she was interested, inquisitive, in control and non-committal. She did agree, however, to visit the Kansas Special Olympics Summer Games in Wichita the following year and observe the law enforcement activities. She arrived, observed, signed on and became an empowering force that allowed the Law Enforcement Torch Run to move forward.
As The Torch Run grew she provided the commitment, partnership, helping hands and the "get it done" attitude. Over the years I had the privilege of watching her at a variety of events and her message was always to inspire confidence and the commitment of inclusion for all. It matter not if it was a boardroom meeting, standing in the middle of Soldiers' Field, a gala event in California, a State Department dinner, at the White House or on the stage of the Grand Ole Opera, she motivated and generated the enthusiasm that moved all of us forward.
History will record her as the one who provided a light into the darkness. A light that touched not only those with intellectual disabilities but the millions of us that could not see the potential of those who were right in front of us. She broke down those walls that separated people, governments and nations and brought us all together in the spirit of helping each other to do what is right.
I was humbled recently as I stood in her home and looked into the faces of her children and grandchildren as they had gathered for prayer and reflections. I could see through them Eunice's faith, strength and inspirations radiating throughout the room. Later, as a Special Law Enforcement Torch led her to her final earthly event, I watched with joyfulness as her indomitable spirit was seen in her family and her athletes along the way.
On behalf of Law Enforcement Officers everywhere, it is with gratitude and appreciation, that I say thank you to Eunice Kennedy Shriver for allowing us the privilege and honor to be a part of her Special Olympic family.
Chief Richard E. LaMunyon
Founder of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics