In the 1950s and early 1960s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated, she decided to take action.
She discovered that many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t have a place to play.
She held a summer day camp for young people with ID in her own backyard. The goal was to learn what these children could do in sports and other activities and not dwell on what they could not do.
Throughout the 1960s, she continued her pioneering work. She was the driving force behind President John F. Kennedy’s White House panel on people with ID. She directed the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation. Her vision and drive for justice grew into the Special Olympics movement.
The First International Special Olympics Games were held on July 20, 1968, on Soldier Field, in Chicago, with 1,000 ID athletes from the U.S. and Canada competing.
From that significant beginning, the Special Olympics expanded to become a worldwide movement.
Last week, the United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos underwent a two-day thrashing over her department’s proposal to eliminate funding for America’s Special Olympics.
On Thursday, she sat before senators to defend the decision to delete the funding.
“As I said then, and I’ll say again, we had to make tough choices and decisions around the budget priorities,” she told Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat.
She even went on to tell him in a fiery exchange to “not use disabled children in a twisted way for your political narrative.”
But when President Donald Trump heard about the problem, he declared on Thursday evening, that he had “overridden my people” and saved the Special Olympics funding.
After hearing the news, DeVos said, “I am pleased and grateful the president and I see eye-to-eye on this issue and that he has decided to fund our Special Olympics grant. This is funding I have fought for behind the scenes over the last several years.”
So the funding has been restored in the budget, thanks to presidential action. The highly supported program that millions of Americans favor will be able to continue its full-fledged 51-year-operation once again.