An entire book needs to be written to do justice to the many achievements of Eunice Kennedy Shriver in philanthropy, public policy leadership, and the International Special Olympics movement. However, my task here is to briefly highlight Mrs. Shriver's most significant and lasting achievements in the field of intellectual disability as they relate to these three spheres of activity. Her striking achievements, spanning more than 50 years, involved formidable challenges and changed the field of intellectual disability forever by advancing human dignity and civil rights, public acceptance, community services, research, health promotion, and the joy and benefits of physical activity and sport.

We begin in 1958, a significant year in Eunice Shriver's public life and in intellectual disability history as well. According to the medical historian Edward Shorter (2000), in that year, Joseph P. Kennedy asked his daughter Eunice and her husband Sargent Shriver to take responsibility for the...

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