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September 3, 2009
Dear AAIDD Members and Friends,
It is with a very heavy heart that we mourn the passing of Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Mrs. Shriver was an indefatigable giant who used her many talents, skills, connections, and great energy to better the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in the U.S. and throughout the world.
As a young woman, she raised the consciousness of our nation by encouraging her brother, President John F. Kennedy to correct the indignities and injustices imposed by our society on citizens with mental retardation who were locked away and neglected. In recognition of this national disgrace, President Kennedy appointed the “President’s Panel on Mental Retardation” and in 1962 that Panel delivered 95 recommendations calling for downsizing our institutional facilities and significantly expanding community services and opportunities. This was the beginning of the modern era of political activism, united advocacy, and the legal right to treatment movement in the U.S.
In the early 1960’s Mrs. Shriver also organized a summer camp in her own backyard, which has now grown into the internationally recognized Special Olympics program serving 3.1 million people in 170 nations. Through Special Olympics International the world has learned that people with significant disabilities are capable of enjoying, participating and competing in sport and competition. Today, under the continued leadership of her son Tim Shriver, Special Olympics International has brought much joy to many athletes from every corner of the globe.
Mrs. Shriver, who was a member of our association for more than 30 years, was a trail-blazer along with her peers Elizabeth Boggs, Gunnar Dybwad and Burton Blatt. She made a positive difference in this world and it feels like the end of an era. Eunice Kennedy Shriver will be missed.
We offer our deepest condolences to our former Board member Tim Shriver and the entire Shriver/Kennedy family. We share in your loss and offer our deepest sympathy.
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