Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, died early this morning at the Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Massachusetts. She was 88 years old.

Shriver was the sister of former president John F. Kennedy, former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. She was also the mother of former TV journalist Maria Shriver, mother-in-law of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and mother of Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver.

Councilman Shriver wrote an email to the Santa Monica newspaper The Lookout, announcing the death.

“She passed at 2 a.m. this morning,” he wrote. “An amazing life.”

Well-wishers are leaving comments on Shriver's web site,, which greets each person with a stirring excerpt from a speech she gave at the 1987 Special Olympics World Games in South Bend, Indiana.

“You are the stars and the world is watching you,” says Shriver, with the kind of inspirational, Kennedy delivery made famous by her brothers. “By your presence, you send a message to every village, every city, every nation. A message of hope. A message of victory.”

She continues to strong applause, “The right to play on any playing field? You have earned it. The right to study in any school? You have earned it. The right to hold a job? You have earned it. The right to be anyone's neighbor? You have earned it.”

On March 24, 1984, Shriver's web site reads, “President Reagan awarded Shriver the Presidential

Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, for her work on

behalf of persons with intellectual disabilities.”

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

LA Weekly