Decades ago two individuals envisioned a better life for people with intellectual disabilities- Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Richard LaMunyon. This Saturday the world will celebrate EKS Day – a day dedicated to Mrs. Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics movement. A week ago law enforcement officers and Special Olympics representatives celebrated Retired Police Chief Richard LaMunyon, founder of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.
Mrs. Shriver saw first hand the terrible treatment of people with intellectual disabilities. She saw the struggles of her own sister and witnessed the indescribable human suffering of those hidden away in institutions across our country and around the world. Eunice moved from anger to the creation of Camp Shriver – where in her own back yard boys and girls with intellectual disabilities were invited to come, play games, and have fun. Fast forward to today – over 4.7 million people with intellectual disabilities from 169 countries are training and competing in Special Olympics sports.
In 1981, Richard LaMunyon, Chief of Police in Wichita, Kansas, volunteered for the local Special Olympics Games. He saw a great need being served with very little resources. He also saw what Special Olympics not only brought to the athletes but to the volunteers and organizers who were at the Games. The Chief took five of his officers and by running the Olympic Torch, they committed to raising money and awareness for Special Olympics. Fast forward to today – this past year 97,000 law enforcement officers from around the world raised $55,354,258 for Special Olympics.
Here are my thoughts. Both Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Chief Richard LaMunyon not only had opinions about the darkness going on in the world around them – they had an idea they believed would bring light. They didn’t just talk about what they felt needed to change – it was what they DID that changed the lives of millions of people then and now.
It feels like today a lot of us are just talking, when maybe, just one idea followed by an action could bring light to the darkness.