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Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Eunice Mary Kennedy Shriver (born July 10, 1921) is a member of the Kennedy family and helped to found the Special Olympics as a national event. Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, she was the fifth of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Kennedy.

Personal life

In 1944, Eunice Kennedy graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science/Social Thought, after which she went to work for the U.S. Department of State, in the Special War Problems division. In 1950, she became a social worker at the Penitentiary for Women in Alderson, West Virginia, and the following year she moved to Chicago to work with the House of the Good Shepherd and the Chicago Juvenile Court. On May 23, 1953 she married Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Sargent became the United States Ambassador to France from 1968 to 1970 and the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate in 1972. They have five children: Robert Sargent Shriver III (born April 28, 1954), Maria Owings Shriver (November 6, 1955), Timothy Perry Shriver (August 29, 1959), Mark Kennedy Shriver (February 17, 1964), and Anthony Paul Kennedy Shriver (July 20, 1965). Maria married Republican Governor of California and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kennedy Shriver has seventeen grandchildren, the second most of any of the children of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Kennedy. She is second only to her brother, Robert F. Kennedy, who has eleven children and thirty-two grandchildren.

Political career

Eunice actively campaigned for her older brother John F. Kennedy during the 1960 United States presidential election, and in 1968, she helped Ann McGlone Burke nationalize the Special Olympics movement and is the only living woman whose portrait appears on a U.S. coin, the 1995 commemorative Special Olympics silver dollar.

In 2003, Eunice supported her son-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger's successful bid for governor of California.

Charity work

A longtime advocate for children's health and disability issues, Eunice was a key founder of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in 1962, and has also help establish numerous other health care facilities and support networks throughout the country. Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Center for Community of Caring in 1982. She was awarded the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1984 by Ronald Reagan , due to her work on behalf of those with mental retardation. She also received the Civitan International World Citizenship Award for her work in founding the Special Olympics. Her advocacy on this issue has also earned her other awards and recognitions, including honorary degrees from numerous universities. Her husband and she are also opponents of abortion, and Eunice has been a supporter of Feminists for Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, and Democrats for Life of America.

Upon the death of her sister, Rosemary Kennedy, on January 7, 2005, Eunice became the oldest of the four then surviving children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. Her younger sister Patricia Kennedy Lawford died on September 17, 2006. Eunice has suffered several health setbacks in recent years, and on November 18, 2007, she was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital. She spent several weeks at the hospital . On January 28, 2008, she was present at American University when Senator Ted Kennedy announced his endorsement of Barack Obama's presidential campaign .

In 2008, Congress changed NICHD’s name to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.

References

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