Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed away on Tuesday August 11,2009. She was the founder of the Special Olympics and a lifetime advocate for people with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics is a movement of sports training and athletic competition for those that have intellectual disabilities. Shriver believed that people with intellectual disabilities deserve the same opportunities and experiences as others.
No matter what the disability, a person still has a talent, a skill, and a gift to give to the world when encouraged doing so. Using sports as a display of abilities brings about respect, acceptance and inclusion. Persons with disabilities benefit by seeing in themselves that they too have talents and it helps them to feel better about themselves. It also serves as a teaching tool to those who may have thought that disabled people were useless until they were afforded the opportunities to witness their grand performances.
The venue of sports has a way of bringing people together from all walks of life, nationalities, cultures, races and backgrounds. Along with the exercises, discipline and vigorous training that it takes to be athletically fit to play a specific sport; building character, strength, strong muscles, and team work.
No wonder the Bible is full of metaphors that compare the Christian life to that of an athlete. Since everyone seems to be able to relate to sports, God used these metaphors to help us understand the Christian life. No matter what physical or mental state we are in, we all have talents, skills, and gifts that have been given to us by God. But many times we are not encouraged to use them or to even find out what they are. Which is especially frustrating for those that have disabilities. Instead we must go after them, train, and master our skills like an athlete does for his specific sport. Athletes know what their talents and skills are and will train in that specific sport. Some people spend their time going after a talent that they do not have because they like it. Or because someone else has the talent that they want. But not athletes, they will not train in a sport that they do not have the talent for. They are content with their own God given abilities and not the abilities that someone else has. They know that they can find their significance and place in society by using their own God given talents and skills. Which is what Eunice Kennedy Shriver did to help the intellectually disabled find their significance through the Special Olympics.