Acceptance Speech for the Sports Academy Eagle Award

Washington, D.C. | February 3, 2004

Everyone is accepted, everyone is appreciated, everyone works together for the betterment of society everywhere.

Thank you, Doctor Rosandich.

I am honored to accept the Eagle Award from the United States Sports Academy which recognizes that "sports can promote harmony, peace and goodwill". These goals also are truly, I believe, an accurate description of "Special Olympics". So, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of dedicated Special Olympics Athletes, Coaches, Volunteers, Parents, and Staff around the world, I thank you. Each and every one of you!

It has been my joy and privilege to participate in the Special Olympics Movement, from its very first days to its glorious, multi-national days, world-wide!!! Also I am happy to express my great admiration for my wife who is here today. Through Eunice's vision, her courage and her determination the world has learned what persons with mental retardation can do! And, my son, Timothy Shriver the Chairman and CEO of "Special Olympics" believes that the empowerment of the world's 170 million people with intellectual disabilities is exactly what social justice and true freedom is all about! Everyone is accepted, everyone is appreciated, everyone works together for the betterment of society everywhere. Those are the goals that have been established for "Special Olympics" in the 21st Century.

At our 2003, Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland last July, 7,000 Athletes from 150 countries participated together. 52 languages were spoken at those Games. Athletes from Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq competed, and all of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa were represented. All of these people, from all of these nations participated in our World Games in Ireland where representatives from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland worked together as if they were one body to stage these Games:

So, Dr. Rosandich, I thank you for recognizing the enormous contribution which "Special Olympics" has made to sports on all continents and for all peoples of all races worldwide. The staff gathered here before you also exemplify the ones who make it happen, every day and everywhere. "Special Olympics" truly involves human beings: of all races, all languages, all religions, all nationalities, all ages, all colors, and all mental and moral beliefs! And, may we always remember the words several years ago of the Minister Counselor of the Soviet Embassy, Alexander Potemkin, when he said: -- "Special Olympics" will assist us all, -- East and West and North and South— to synchronize our moral compasses."