Health Heroes

Eunice Shriver

by Sammy from San Diego

Eunice Shriver (
Eunice Shriver (

"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt," (Eunice Shriver). Eunice Shriver spoke these historical words while opening the first Special Olympics. Born into a large, competitive family and inspired by her mentally challenged sister Rosemary, Eunice felt the need to help the mentally challenged. She did this by organizing camps and the Special Olympics so the mentally disabled could participate in physical activities. At the time, when the mentally disabled were shunned, Eunice opened her arms and gave them opportunities no one thought they would ever have. Eunice Shriver was inspired and determined to improve the lives of the mentally challenged while inspiring others to do the same.

Special Olympics (
Special Olympics (

Through a chain of inspiration, Eunice was inspired to help the mentally challenged while inspiring society to follow in her heroic footsteps. Eunice's inspiration ignited when her sister, Rosemary, got diagnosed with a mental disability: "Everyone in the family was affected by Rosemary's condition; they all became more aware of the needs of mentally challenged people. Shriver, in particular, saw that mentally challenged people can often accomplish quite a lot." (Encyclopedia of the World, 1999) Rosemary had been the inspiration behind all of Eunice's success. Eunice's inspiration from Rosemary became an inspiration to society. Eunice inspired people to create a change by giving the mentally challenged opportunities that no one thought they would ever get.: "Shriver changed the way people perceived those who were mentally impaired, helping those who were mentally challenged believe in themselves and inspiring them to become all they could be by exposing them to new activities."  ("Eunice Mary Shriver." Notable Sports Figures. Ed.) Because Eunice stood up for the mentally challenged, she inspired others to do likewise. Eunice inspired many to treat the mentally challenged as an equal. The inspiration that had been passed down from Rosemary to Eunice to society, benefited the mentally challenged in many ways.

Dancing at camp (
Dancing at camp (

At a time when society shunned the mentally challenged Eunice Shriver was determined to give them opportunity's they deserved. Throughout her life,:"[s]he worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for mentally challenged people and to provide them with opportunities to achieve, to become productive citizens, and to be respected members of their communities" (Encyclopedia of the World, 1999). Eunice showed determination by working endlessly to give the mentally challenged new opportunities. Her determination was shown through her accomplishments.  Not only did Eunice organize camps for the mentally challenged, but she also started an Olympics: "That summer camp led Eunice Shriver and her husband, Sargent, to start the Special Olympics. Eunice Shriver opened the first national games." ("Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Olympic Legacy." NPR.) Shriver's determination got paid off not only for her, but also for the mentally challenged. Her drive for equality brought the mentally challenged success. If it wasn't for Eunice's determination, mentally challenged citizens might have not had the opportunity's they get today.

Eunice clapping (
Eunice clapping (

Eunice Shriver's determination to give the mentally challenged equality inspired others to do the same. Through her actions and her words, Eunice inspired people everywhere to treat each other as an equal no matter what differences we have. She used her determination to inspire society to help others. "Eunice is a remarkable woman," says history professor Edward Shorter, author of The Kennedy Family and the Story of Mental Retardation."It was extraordinary of her to conceive that she, too, could play a role comparable to that of her brothers," Shorter says. "Her leadership role would be in the area of mental retardation rather than on the big political stage, because in the 1950s, she couldn't get on that political stage. Women weren't tolerated there." (Edward Shorter. "Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Olympic Legacy." NPR.)  As Edward Shorter pointed out, Eunice is a remarkable woman. I think Eunice is a hero because she not only created camps and the Special Olympics, but she also impacted society in a way that would change the world forever. Eunice Changed how Society saw the mentally challenged and continues to make an impact today, as her legend still lives on through camp Timberlawn and the Special Olympics. Shriver succeeded in making a difference in many mentally challenged lives. Just like her quote, "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt," Eunice was brave and won, not only for the mentally challenged of her era but also for the society of tomorrow.

Works Cited

Shapiro, Joseph, and Edward Shorter. "Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Olympic Legacy." NPR. NPR, 05 Apr. 2007. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

"Eunice Kennedy Shriver." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Vol. 19. Detroit: Gale, 1999. Biography In Context. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

"Eunice Mary Shriver." Notable Sports Figures. Ed. Dana R. Barnes. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Biography In Context. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

Page created on 4/21/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/21/2013 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

One Womens Vision - Eunice's journey to the Special Olympics
Eunice Kennedy Shriver - The life of Eunice Shriver
Shriver Center - Eunice Shriver's accomplishments
JFK Library - Biography of Eunice Shriver