July 20th represents Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day. In 1962, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver began inviting young people with intellectual disabilities to a summer day camp she hosted in her backyard. She called it “Camp Shriver.” The goal was to explore the children’s skills in a variety of sports and physical activities. That first Camp Shriver grew into what is now known as Special Olympics, a global movement that serves more than 4.9 million athletes. Today, Camp Shriver is still an integral part of our program using sports as a vehicle to bring children with and without disabilities together so that they have the opportunity to develop their motor and social skills, create positive peer relationships and make new friends.
Recently, I was honored to recognize local champions who continue to celebrate Mrs. Shriver’s legacy with the effort that started it all – Camp Shriver. During my visit to the City of Miami Sandra DeLucca Center, I was greeted by heroes and champions enjoying time at their summer camp. Mrs. Shriver would have been proud to stand by me and recognize the City of Miami and local leaders like Charlie DeLucca for bringing her vision to life. We provide these camps and all of our programs free of cost to our participants and their caregivers to ensure everyone who wants to attend can do so. However, with over 300,000 people in Florida estimated to have an intellectual or developmental disability, the need to offer more of these life changing experiences is imperative.
To make this possible, we need revolutionaries like you to help us bring more of these amazing camps to our great state. Mrs. Shriver proved that one small action can make a lasting impact beyond imagination. Next year is the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics, and it would be a great tribute to an incredible founder and all of our athletes to offer Camp Shriver in every county throughout Florida. If you are interested in helping us make this possible, please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org so together we can serve those who need us most!
Written by: Sherry Wheelock, President and CEO, Special Olympics Florida