July 20 is Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day.
In 1962, Shriver began inviting young people with intellectual disabilities to a summer day camp she hosted in her back yard. She called it “Camp Shriver.”
That first Camp Shriver grew into what is now known as Special Olympics, a global movement serving more than 4.9 million athletes. Camp Shriver is still an integral part of our program, using sports to bring children with and without disabilities together so that they have the opportunity to develop their motor and social skills, create positive relationships, and make new friends.
Recently, I was honored to recognize local champions who continue to celebrate Shriver’s legacy. During my visit to Miami’s Sandra DeLucca Center, I was greeted by heroes and champions enjoying time at their summer camp.
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Shriver would have been proud to stand by me and recognize Miami and local leaders like Charlie DeLucca for bringing her vision to life.
We provide these camps and all of our programs for free to participants and their caregivers to ensure everyone who wants to attend can do so. However, with more than 300,000 people in Florida with an intellectual or developmental disability, the need to offer more of these life-changing experiences is imperative.
To make this possible, we need volunteers to help us bring more of these amazing camps to Florida. Shriver proved that one small action can make a lasting impact.
Next year is the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics. It would be a great tribute to our founder and all of our athletes to offer Camp Shriver in every county throughout Florida.
Sherry Wheelock, president and CEO,
Special Olympics Florida, Clermont