John Hockenberry: As we’ve been reporting all morning, Eunice Kennedy Shriver - sister of President John F. Kennedy, former senator Robert F. Kennedy - founder of the Special Olympics died early this morning at 88 years of age. She was certainly a member of one of America’s most prominent political families, but her legacy goes way beyond the Kennedys. Joining us now is Brady Lum, President of the Special Olympics. Good morning sir.
Brady Lum: Good morning.
JH: You know, it’s amazing to me, it’s actually a bit of an emotional story for me this morning as a person with a disability. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was part of this extraordinary transformation that’s taken place in my lifetime from people with mental disabilities coming out of the cloister really, out of the ghetto, the sequestration in institutions, to see the light of day and then it being an actual sort of rights question of people with disabilities – it’s not just a good idea, it’s not charity, it’s part of, like democracy. I mean what an amazing legacy.
BL: Well, amazing – I would take it even further. It’s a message of not only changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and disabilities, but transforming the lives of others in the way that we perceive, in the way we include, in the way we celebrate what every human being brings to this world. It’s truly remarkable.
JH: Well here she is speaking back in 1987 before the special Olympics beginning in South Bend, Indiana.
TAPE:"Eunice Kennedy Shriver: “The right to play on any playing field? You have earned it. The right to study in any school? You have earned. The right to have any job? You have earned. The right to be anyone's neighbor? You have earned it."
JH: Brady Lum, Special Olympics President, that has the resonance of JFK’s “We shall go to the moon,” doesn’t it?
BL: It’s incredible. I had an opportunity to speak with Mrs. Shriver about six months ago and at that point and time I asked her - I said I wish I could have been there to see some of her work in the earlier days and she looked at me sternly in the face and said, “Brady, Special Olympics is owned by the future not by the past.” I tell you, it shook me the same time that it inspired me just about as anything has in my past.
JH: That’s amazing. Describe how, and you sort of alluded to it a moment ago, and we don’t have a lot of time here, but I could spend the hour with you here Brady – this approach to people with intellectual disabilities has informed and enriched our whole notion of inclusion throughout America.
BL: That’s right. This is, it really has been her whole livelihood, and we talk about ourselves as fulfilling not only an incredible service to all of our 3.1 million athletes around the world but also the millions and millions of fans of Special Olympics. And around the lessons of inclusion, we believe that every single opportunity around the globe everyday is a teachable moment for us and we still have a long way to go.
JH: Well, a lot of teachable moments people will be talking about today. Brady Lum, President of the Special Olympics speaking to us on the day of Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s death. She died at the age of 88, she founded the Special Olympics. Thank you, Brady.