Some people know what they want to do at age 16; others discover the answer in college. My answer came far later, on the very edge of 30, and it was because of Sarge Shriver.
It was the summer of 1975, and, with my dissertation approved, I wanted to return to Washington, DC to work -- but doing what and where? One of my first calls for advice was to Bob Montague who then was in charge of Special Olympics for the Shrivers. It was my last call, because he said, with the can-do enthusiasm that was Bob's trademark, that Sarge Shriver was "going to run for President, so why don't you come down and help us." I didn't hesitate.
I was asked to work on issues/policy under Larry Tribe and David Birenbaum. I had no campaign experience, and there was, most certainly, no formal job description beyond "do whatever needs to be done." And that was the job, one I learned simply by doing.
More and more this involved interaction with Sarge himself. From the moment I met him, I saw his almost-never bridled enthusiasm, his personal commitment, and his willingness to ask even more of himself than he asked of others...and, as I got to know him better, his deep Faith, relentlessly informed by thought and inquiry, and his absolute love of his family...shining through even decades later in his poignant farewell wave to Eunice at her service. I knew that I could never let him down or do less than my best for this person who gave so totally of himself. And thus I learned from Sarge not just what I wanted to do but how I should aim to do it.
The impact of his commitment to a cause, his sense of what was right and good, his humanity, his devotion, and his instinct to see life through a youthful lens has lasted far beyond that first campaign encounter. Thus, I have been privileged to have Sarge as a North Star on which to take my bearings. We all will miss him.