For more than 33 years I have had the privilege of knowing and working beside a true hero, Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
She has changed the world forever in her quest to gain acceptance for and provide meaningful experiences for persons with intellectual disability. She has done that through the creation of Special Olympics and sheer force of will! No one that has ever known her or been asked to do something for her special friends will doubt her force of will. To answer no is simply unacceptable when she believes she is right, which has proven to be almost all the time. After 33 years I cannot think of time when she insisted on something that she was proven wrong.
Mrs. Shriver has insisted that Special Olympics be first and foremost a sports program, there have been challenges to that but athletes daily prove that she was and is right again! Doors have opened and continue to open through sports as millions of volunteers and the public see what Special Olympics Athletes can accomplish!
Mrs. Shriver has always insisted that the sports competition be fair for the participants, everyone should have a real chance to stand in the sunlight and be recognized for their achievements. She once commented that she was sure her headstone would be inscribed with the works, "The Heats Are Still Uneven." The heats are still sometimes uneven but we continue to try to make them as perfect as Mrs. Shriver insists they must be, right again, as usual!
Monty Castevens, President
Special Olympics Florida
Monty Castevens is President and CEO of Special Olympics Florida.