For Tim Shriver, the Special Olympics are a family affair. His mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was one of nine children, and one of her sisters, Rosemary, had an intellectual disability.
“My grandparents were always telling my mother to include her sister Rosemary because the rest of the world does not,” explained Shriver. “It was an important idea that this family could grow up welcoming, loving, valuing, and respecting.”
In 1968, a very turbulent time for the United States, Eunice held the first Special Olympics Games in Chicago.
“My mother had this powerful idea that sports could help bridge the gap that separates people by fear,” said Shriver. “She changed the label to ‘Olympics’ – the highest ideal you could possibly create and the event welcomed and celebrated the individual gifts of the athletes.”
50 years later, the Special Olympics USA Games are headed to Seattle in July.
“We’re no longer a movement of people with intellectual disabilities,” explained Shriver. “Now, we’re a movement from people with intellectual disabilities, for everyone.”
Special Olympics gold medalist and multi-sport athlete Marcia Barrett, who hails from Redmond, Washington, said Seattle can leave a legacy for future generations of Special Olympics athletes.
“We’ve already been the city of boom for aerospace, music, tech, and the Legion of Boom, so now let’s be the city of the Special Olympics boom – let’s do this!”
Amazon is the presenting sponsor of the Closing Ceremony, with hundreds of Amazonians already signed up to volunteer. In honor of the USA Games, Shriver and Barrett joined us for a discussion moderated by Amazon's Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Beth Galetti.
And on March 23rd, The Spheres were aglow in purple, the official color of the Special Olympics, to celebrate the 100-day countdown to The USA Games. Tim and Marcia remind us we don’t have to wait 100 days to be a part of this movement.
“It is fundamental that you choose to include,” said Tim. “Be the tipping point and create enough energy, that the default becomes inclusion – it’s that simple.”