PSS Winter '12

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Honored with Elizabeth Blackwell Award

Special Olympics

In conjunction with the presentation of the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, the Student Athlete-Advisory Committee announced a partnership with Special Olympics in which HWS will host clinics for Special Olympics athletes and invite them to take part in game day activities. In addition, HWS student-athletes will support Special Olympics athletes at their events. Pictured here are HWS student-athletes, Special Olympics athletes, HWS coaches including Director of William Smith Athletics Deb Steward, President Mark D. Gearan and Timothy P. Shriver.

In recognition of her work to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics, was posthumously honored as the 38th recipient of the Elizabeth Blackwell Award during a special ceremony in October. Timothy P. Shriver, chair and CEO of Special Olympics, accepted the award on his mother’s behalf and offered a stirring talk to a crowd of HWS community members and local Special Olympics athletes in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center.


“A woman of enormous conviction and unyielding determination, Eunice Kennedy Shriver worked tirelessly for more than five decades on behalf of those with intellectual disabilities,” said President Mark D. Gearan. “By expanding the lives of millions of people and by believing that all people have the right to live with joy and hope, Eunice Kennedy Shriver created a culture of inclusion and dignity that has changed the world.”

In the 1960s, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a summer camp in her backyard that eventually evolved into the Special Olympics – a global movement that today serves three million people in nearly 200 nations around the world.

“I am enormously humbled and proud to receive this award on behalf of my mother,” said Timothy Shriver, who has continued his mother’s legacy through his leadership of the Special Olympics. “The idea all came from a simple insight. My mom was just furious – she saw something that was wrong and she was furious about it... It was just a combination of a belief in human dignity, a fury about injustice and a willingness to ask young people to help.”

During the course of his speech, Shriver noted that despite all of the efforts and changes that his mother and the Special Olympics have achieved, their work is far from over. “If she were here today, I think she’d be saying, don’t take the treatment that people with intellectual disabilities are getting today as the norm.”

Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s advocacy for the rights of individuals with intellectual disabilities began in 1957 when she took over the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, which helped achieve many significant advances, including the establishment by President John F. Kennedy of The President’s Committee on Mental Retardation in 1961, the development of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development in 1962, and the establishment of Special Olympics in 1968.

In addition to the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, Eunice Kennedy Shriver has received many honors including The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Mary Lasker Award and inclusion in The National Women’s Hall of Fame.

The Blackwell Award

The Blackwell Award is given to women whose lives reflect the ideals and achievements of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell-among them the determination to break through stereotypes that limit women’s talents and aspirations and the dedication of those talents to the betterment of humanity. Blackwell is the first woman in America to receive the Doctor of Medicine degree. She earned her degree in 1849 from Geneva Medical College, later Hobart College. Shriver joins such notable women as former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, professional tennis legend Billie Jean King, and anthropologist and author Margaret Mead.


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