Michelle Obama showed up to the 2017 ESPYs to honor to a woman who more than deserves it: the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Obama gave Shriver the posthumous Arthur Ashe Courage Award at Wednesday night’s ESPYs for her work in 1968 to found the Special Olympics. Today, the Special Olympics is the world’s largest sporting organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities; this certainly is work that deserves to be honored.
Obama was met with a standing ovation as she took the stage to deliver her remarks. “I am here tonight to honor a remarkable woman,” Obama said. “Through her passionate service, she made the world more welcoming and fair […] Alongside heroes like Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King, Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe, there’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver.”
A video then played showing the life and achievements of Shriver — after a reel of students describing being bullied and feeling left out because of their disabilities.
Michelle Obama explains the inspiring life of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.https://t.co/kjPgSTkmwn
— ESPN (@espn) July 13, 2017
Shriver died in 2009 after seeing the Special Olympics reach more than 100 countries. She was the mother of California first lady Maria Shriver and sister to President John F. Kennedy. She was inspired to found the Special Olympics after her sister, Rosemary, was born with mental disabilities.
At the time Kennedy Shriver started the Special Olympics, people with those kinds of disabilities were shunned and forced to live in institutions. Kennedy Shriver fought for their acceptance in society, beginning with Camp Shriver in 1960. The organization grew and grew into the international powerhouse it is today.
Kennedy Shriver’s son, Timothy, who serves as chair for the Special Olympics, accepted the award on his mom’s behalf.
“Our mother would have loved you,” he said to Obama, adding, “She would have been so honored that you are here for her tonight, as we all are. You can just imagine Arthur Ashe and Eunice Shriver. Both committed to inclusion… the two of them, what an extraordinary team in heaven inspiring us still.”
And they are inspiring.