Work Hard, Play Hard, in Honor of our Founder

Photo by Jack McCallum originally appeared in Sports Illustrated, Dec. 8, 2008

Eunice Kennedy Shriver had a vision that by today’s standards seems pretty simple: People with intellectual disabilities have “earned the right to play in any field… study in any school… hold a job… or be anyone’s neighbor.” The reason, however, that this vision seems simple to us is in many ways because of Eunice Kennedy Shriver herself. Having founded Special Olympics with a simple back-yard swimming clinic in 1967 and directing its growth into the world’s largest amateur sports oprganization, Mrs. Shriver truly changed the world for all of us.

This coming week-end, we at Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) are joining thousands of other world-wide to honor Mrs. Shriver on Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day (though in true Mrs. Shriver fashion, we are grinding out multiple activities over the course of the week-end to ensure that our athletes can continue to live her, and their, vision), by commiting actions of inclusion, acceptance and unity for and with individuals with intellectual disabilities.

On Saturday, we are lucky enough to have 5-time World Figure Skating Champion and two-time Olympic Medalist Michelle Kwan put on an inclusive ice-skating clinic for SOMA athletes and their peers. Michelle Kwan is a big-time supporter of the Special Olympics Movement and is one of many celebrity athletes around the country (including Olympic champions Bart Connors and Nadia Comaneci) who will be celebrating Mrs. Shrivers legacy on Saturday. The event will take place at Veterans Memorial Arena in Everett, Ma. from noon until 2:00 pm.

Elsewhere, we’ll be hosting our South Section Equestrian competition, in Hanover, Ma, as well as a golf invitational in Easthampton, Ma. Our athletes will be living the oath authored by Mrs. Shriver: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Now, as we all know, nothing is free in this world, and we at SOMA will be hard at work the rest of this week-end raising critical funds to enable us to carry on Mrs. Shriver’s brilliant vision. Just this Fall alone, we have thousands of athletes participating in soccer, equestrian, flag football, and our “Senior Sports” competition. If you are interested in supporting these efforts in any way, please contact us or click the links for more info:

On Sunday and Monday, SOMA will host the 4th Annual SOMA Golf-a-Thon, a pledge-driven 72-hole golf tournament that annually raises over $100,000. be sure to watch the video on the event website to see the great story of SOMA athlete and champion golfer Tyler Lagasse. This year, Tyler has decided to give back to SOMA and raise funds through the Golf-a-thon! Check out his team! Thanks Tyler!

On Saturday, SOMA will have a team in the Rodman Ride For Kids, a pledge-driven 25, 50, or 100 mile-cycling tour. Ther are still openings to join the team, or to support your favorite team members.

Feel free to join us or celebrate Euince Kennedy Shriver Day in your own way, but be sure to tell us about it!

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