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On Saturday, September 24, people around the world held events  celebrating the spirit and legacy of our founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver (EKS) as part of EKS Day.  Eunice Kennedy Shriver dedicated her life to empowering people with intellectual disabilities and founded the Special Olympics movement on her passionate belief that any person –regardless of his or her ability– can be an agent of change for good.  Her legacy lives on within the Special Olympics and Best Buddies movements.

Scott Hamilton who is a celebrity supporter and former member of the Board of Directors of Special Olympics shared some thoughts about his EKS Day experience:

Just Lunch by Scott Hamilton

Scott Hamilton poses with gold and silver medal winners from figure skating at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho.

I went to a luncheon the other day with an out of town friend.  I wasn’t supposed to go.  To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know about it until my wife told me she couldn’t go due to our youngest son’s first ever school field trip.  She was one of the volunteer moms.

The table host at this fundraising lunch was concerned and a little upset because three of her invited guests had to drop out at the last minute. This luncheon and charity means the world to her.

So I offered up my friend Bob and myself to take her place.  We were just going to go out and eat lunch anyway.

When I heard who the luncheon was for, I knew that it was more than a coincidence.

It was for Best Buddies.  An organization that pairs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with someone that serves as a friend, mentor, and/or employer.  In many respects it resembles what Big Brothers/Big Sisters does pairing young people with a role model.

I knew that this was going to be much more than a meal and a few speeches.

It delivered on so many levels that there isn’t enough room on this page to describe the experience.

The first person to speak was a young girl with an intellectual disability.  She spoke of her anticipation and excitement about FINALLY getting a buddy.  I liked her immediately because we both have the same last name.  I loved her more for her spirit and her ability to communicate what her world was like without the hope of having someone like the person about to enter her life.  I openly wept when I heard her description of isolation, loneliness and a life lived without what most of us take for granted.  A friend.

It was her first speech and she “hit it out of the park”.

There wasn’t a person in the room that didn’t understand what was happening.  She was opening hearts for an entire segment of our population that has little quality of life.

The creator for this amazing organization is a man named Anthony Shriver. He just happens to be the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics.  Anthony cut his teeth (literally) in a house that had the mindset to give quality of life and opportunity to a significant percentage of our population that didn’t have an advocate. People with intellectual disabilities.

It’s one thing to create an opportunity for a neighbor who needs help.  It’s another thing to change the world.

Eunice Shriver changed our minds and our hearts for people of intellectual disability forever.

Anthony Shriver is doing the same in his way.

Isn’t it amazing that one person can change the world?

Isn’t it even more amazing that YOU, reading this right now, can participate in changing the world as well.  Even if it’s for just one person.

Special Olympics and Best Buddies make this world better.  One human being at a time.  Millions of times a day.

And they couldn’t do it without all of us!

Going to that lunch wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a wonderful coincidence. It was meant to be.

To make my heart grow a little bigger.  And make me feel better about this world.

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