ESPN To Honor Special Olympics Founder
A prestigious award bestowed during a nationally-televised event this summer will put a spotlight on one of the world’s largest organizations for people with developmental disabilities.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded Special Olympics, will be posthumously presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPN’s ESPY Awards in July.
The annual award goes to individuals “whose contributions transcend sports.” Past recipients include Caitlyn Jenner, college basketball coach Pat Summitt and Nelson Mandela.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
“The effort that Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her family have been displaying for these past five decades is truly remarkable,” said Maura Mandt, executive producer of the ESPYS, which commemorate the year in sports. “We are honored to celebrate Eunice’s work and the bravery of the athletes of Special Olympics, whose efforts and performances are as inspiring as any of those we celebrate on this show.”
Special Olympics grew out of a summer day camp that Shriver began in her Maryland backyard in 1962. She was inspired to start the sports program for people with disabilities after bonding with her sister, Rosemary — who had intellectual disabilities — through football, skiing, sailing and other athletics.
The first international Special Olympics Games were held in 1968 in Chicago. Today, the organization involves more than 5.3 million athletes around the world with over 108,000 competitions annually.
Shriver died in 2009. Her son, Tim Shriver, who currently serves as chairman of Special Olympics, will accept the honor on her behalf at the ESPY Awards on July 12 in Los Angeles. The event will air live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.