August 11, 2009 / 12:58 PM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX: Facts about Eunice Shriver, advocate for disabled

(Reuters) - Facts about Eunice Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics:

* Eunice, born July 10, 1921, in Brookline, Massachusetts, was the fifth of the nine children of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy. She graduated from Stanford University and married Sargent Shriver in 1953.

* Shriver’s brothers included President John F. Kennedy, former New York senator and attorney general Robert Kennedy and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and she took part in their political campaigns. She also campaigned on behalf of her husband’s vice presidential bid in 1972.

* She was always concerned about the well-being of the mentally disabled and founded the Special Olympics in 1968 to further their physical fitness and self-esteem. Her concern was said to have been inspired by her closeness to her handicapped older sister, Rosemary.

* The Special Olympics, which started as summer camps held in the Shrivers’ backyard, now serves about 2.5 million mentally disabled people in 190 countries, the organization said on its website.

* Shriver had a job at the State Department, was a social worker at a women’s prison in West Virginia and worked in the juvenile court system in Chicago before taking over the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation. The foundation, a memorial to her oldest brother, who was killed in World War Two, was used to start the Special Olympics.

* President Ronald Reagan presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, to Shriver in 1984. Her husband was given the same award by President Bill Clinton 10 years later.

* The Shrivers’ five children include Maria, a former NBC television journalist and wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; Timothy, chairman of the Special Olympics board; Mark, a former Maryland state legislator; Anthony, an activist for the disabled; and Bobby, who joined U2 singer Bono in founding an organization help development in Africa.

Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Chris Wilson

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