A thank-you to Eunice

Jamie Smith -- image courtesy of Easter Seals Metropolitan ChicagoEunice Kennedy Shriver, an advocate for people with physical and developmental disabilities, died yesterday. Shriver was a co-founder of the Special Olympics, an organization she hoped would develop confidence and social skills for people with disabilities.

She lived long enough to see her hopes fulfilled — it’s impossible to count the number of our own Easter Seals clients who benefit from the sports training and competition they receive by participating in Special Olympics. Two perfect examples? Team USA member Jamie Smith, and our blogger Maurice Snell.

Jamie Smith, a graduate of Easter Seals’ Autism Therapeutic School in Chicago, traveled with the Special Olympics to Shanghai, China in September, 2007 and brought home two bronze and two silver medals for powerlifting.

Earlier this year Maurice applauded Jamie Smith’s efforts in a blog post about Special Olympics:

It has helped change the lives of many different people — including my colleague, Jamie Smith. Jamie went to Shanghai, China and did extraordinarily well -– he won four Olympic medals!

Maurice benefited from his own participation in the Special Olympics. He was diagnosed with autism when he was six years old. At age seven, he and his family visited what today is the Easter Seals Therapeutic Day School, a place where students with autism ages 3 to 21 receive not only an education and therapy, but recreational services, too. During Maurice’s 10 years at the school, a team of professionals helped him develop his speech, language and communication skills. They helped with his social skills, too: he learned to swim and play baseball, and competed in the Special Olympics. Today, Maurice works as a classroom aide and mentor at his former school.

I was an active participant in the Special Olympics during my days at the Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research. I enjoyed the opportunities to participate in various events and meet many different people. To me, Special Olympics kept me going throughout my life. It motivated me to achieve higher standards and make me grow as a man. I’m grateful for Special Olympics and Easter Seals’ involvement in Special Olympics.

I don’t think I can say it any better than Maurice did. So many lives have been changed for the better thanks to Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s work. Thank you, Eunice. You will be missed.


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  1. Maurice Snell Says:

    This is a well-written blog post, Beth. I like how you used some excerpts of my blog about Special Olympics. But Eunice Kennedy Shriver was THE greatest of the Special Olympics organization. There would not be a Special Olympics, Jamie Smith or Maurice Snell around if it wasn’t for Ms. Shriver. She will be missed by millions of Americans today.