Anthony Shriver

by Toby from San Diego

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Breaking Down Social Norms 

"' is almost worse to die in your head and your heart than to die physically'"(Smeal). Anthony Shriver describes a great ordeal he faces daily; it is worse to know you are not making an impact to create the beginning of something incredible. On July 20, 1965 was the birth of a boy who would start a movement to end exclusiveness. Shriver created a nonprofit organization called Best Buddies that aids people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Their mission is simple, it creates, "... opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities" (Best Buddies International). Being surrounded by people with disabilities his whole life, Shriver, due to his mother being the founder of the Special Olympics, found his love for people that have impairments. Best Buddies was created in 1987 while Shriver was attending Georgetown University (Gray). "'Best Buddies has grown to include more than 6,500 participants in 172 chapters around the world" (Gray). Year after year Shriver keeps unlocking doors to inclusiveness and breaking down stereotypes of people with impairments. In movies, a hero is known as a person with superhuman abilities who saves the world and conquers a villain. But in real life, a hero is someone who impacts people's lives for the better. Someone that stands up when others don't, someone who breaks down social norms, and someone makes the world a better place one step at a time. Anthony Shriver exhibits aspects of a hero through his inclusive qualities and compassion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

To be classified as a hero you should be able to include people that have might have different qualities and characteristics that make them unique but, stand out. Shriver throughout the year strives to his goal to make equality for not only for race but for disabilities too: "'People come up to me and say they are really uneasy still about hiring a person with an intellectual disability.' Anthony said. 'I say it's going to be the best thing you ever did. [.] When you find the right job, no matter who the person is whether you have intellectual disabilities or they don't, if it's a good fit they're the best employees, hands down'" (Ducklow). Shriver displays how he is executing his goal and creating the world more inclusive with disabled people. He works tediously to make sure that everyone, no matter what mental capacity, could work and have a job. By including others and begin to creates more jobs, people with ailments start to be a social norm. Having more managers accept people with disabilities and letting them work creates inclusion. Therefore, he motivates the public to be more closer to people with impairments due to the public seeing them in restaurants, groceries stores, and many more places they might be employed. Creating jobs for people with disabilities, opens up a door to start breaking down social norms. Shriver strives to have everyone feel welcome and have a sense of belonging, even with the differences they might obtain that makes them stand out. He says people with disabilities, "'...have been isolated for too long,'... 'Part of our mission is to make it so people won't stare,' says Shriver. 'So when you go downtown or into church, they're used to having people'" (Gray). Shriver's goal to embrace everyone expanded across a huge platform. Doing this makes the country and some other parts of the world accept more people with IDD. Shriver begins to integrate people with disabilities in society to create inclusion. His care created inclusion for people with IDD and without, thus making his inclusion a heuristic quality. Shriver expresses these qualities through the work he continues to do in Best Buddies. Therefore, making the world much more closer. His inclusion is shows through the jobs and lifelong friendships that he establishes for other people.

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To be a hero you need to have caring qualities and compassion for others. Shriver's compassion shines through his charisma and care for people with IDD: "'We're not looking for a cure to anything, but it is almost worse to die in your head and your heart than to die physically. And that is what many of these people are doing - withering away inside. Best Buddies gives them a shot to get engaged'" (Smeal). Shriver is expressing how it is better to reach out to people with impairments, then see them struggle and then sympathize. By Shriver saying this it exemplifies his compassion for people with ailments. His unconditional love and support for people with impairments shows his compassion. He exemplifies compassion and thoughtfulness, qualities that make a true hero. Shriver compassion can be seen through the friendships and jobs he creates for people with IDD: "'What we try to get across is that people with disabilities have real talent and are achieving real things. They have something to give back and share. Historically, people have written them off. [But] not only do they get jobs, they become self-advocates, giving speeches in the community and motivating young people'" (Smeal). By Shriver creating Best Buddies, it gave thousands of opportunities for a better life to people with IDD. He emphasizes their talents, uniqueness, and passion to create new friendships and job. Shriver created an entire nonprofit for the benefit of others who are struggling. By Shriver supporting people with impairments, shows how his compassion shines through. His compassion is shown through the work he tediously put in for Best Buddies to make everyone feel equal.

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Anthony Shriver is a hero due to his inclusiveness and his compassion towards people with disabilities. By Shriver creating a program that creates friendships and employment for people who can't do it by himself easily, it makes him a hero. The program he created and the mission of the nonprofit strives for shows his compassion and inclusion. He includes other and keeps on trying to break down social norms so everyone will have a sense of belonging. Shriver inspires many through the work and success of Best Buddies. Best Buddies continues to create thousands of unforgettable friendships and jobs for people with mental impairments. Shriver is an inspiration to many due to his work he has done in Best Buddies. He has included thousands and left people with IDD feel accepted. Also, parents that have children with impairments have a new hope that their kid can make extraordinary friendships and become employed. Personally being actively involved in Best Buddies myself, I see the struggles and obstacles people with ailments have to face daily. But, I also get to create new friendships that I will never take for granted. I've seen others be discriminated because of them having impairments and Shriver is an inspiration to me for trying to eliminate this social norm once for all. Remember to always open closed doors and be the one to impact the world.

Works Cited

Best Buddies International. "Founder and Chairman." Best Buddies International, Best

Buddies International,  2017, Accessed 2 May 2017.

Ducklow, Kelsey. "Maria and Anthony Shriver Talk Best Buddies and Team Maria."

Maria Shriver, Maria Shriver, 19 Aug. 2016, Accessed 4 May 2017.

Gray, Kevin. "Best of Buddies." Anthony Shriver's Program for the Mentally Disabled

Encourages People to Stop Staring and Start Sharing, People Magazine , 1995, Accessed 1 May 2017.

Lacayo, Richard. "It's All in the Family." EBSCOhost, Richard Lacayo, 1999, Accessed 28 Apr. 2017.

Smeal, Jim. "Anthony Shriver on the Mission of Best Buddies." Ocean Drive Magazine,

    Ocean Drive, 1 Nov.  


    Accessed 3 May 2017.

Page created on 5/17/2017 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/17/2017 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Best Buddies International - Where to find more information on Best Buddies and find out how to get involved.
Ocean Drive Magazine - An article about Anthony Shriver and his mission