Bipartisan Group of Representatives, Senators Introduce the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, bipartisan leaders in both the House and Senate unveiled the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act. This legislation continues the legacy of Mrs. Shriver by reauthorizing the Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act, which has supported persons with intellectual disabilities through health, education and global initiatives. This legislation also includes the Best Buddies Empowerment for People with Intellectual Disabilities Act, originally passed by the House in April 2009, to make grants to the Best Buddies organization to expand its programming.
In addition, this legislation authorizes grants to support research, training and technical assistance at universities with expertise in serving people with intellectual disabilities and their families. These grants will help improve their quality of life and ensure opportunities for full participation. Mrs. Shriver, who passed away in August 2009, founded the Special Olympics and was a longtime supporter and board member of Best Buddies.
“Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a tireless advocate for millions of people worldwide with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “This legislation honors Mrs. Shriver’s legacy and reaffirms Congress’s commitment to ensuring that everyone – including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities – has an opportunity to live full, successful lives. I want to thank Rep. Roy Blunt for his hard work on this legislation, and my colleagues in the House and Senate for their unwavering commitment to this cause.”
“Few organizations support individuals with intellectual disabilities to the extent of the Special Olympics and Best Buddies International, and I proudly support the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act to help them continue that mission,” said Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI). “Special Olympics and Best Buddies are superb organizations that have done wonderful work in my district and across Michigan. I am pleased to join Leader Hoyer and others on this bipartisan legislation.”
“The Special Olympics program is respected around the world as a model and leader in using sport to ensure equal opportunity and acceptance of individuals with intellectual disabilities. It has received this acclaim due to the work of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who was an icon for individuals with disabilities around the country,” said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). “Through the Special Olympics and Best Buddies programs, millions of individuals with intellectual disabilities are also assured of equal opportunities for community participation, inclusive education, and access to appropriate health care. This legislation honors her legacy while continuing our support for these important programs.”
“Special Olympics and the Best Buddies program have played a vital role in making sure that all people learn to succeed and achieve,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “This bill takes critical steps to ensuring that these institutions continue to push everyone, regardless of disability, to reach their highest possible potential.”
“For too long, individuals with disabilities have been denied full participation in our society. Special Olympics and Best Buddies have a record of breaking down barriers in sports and social inclusion—causes for which Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a fierce advocate. Her lifetime of leadership continues to provide an example to all of us, and I am proud that this legislation bears her name and strengthens these important programs,” said Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).
“It is through the committed leadership of Senator Harkin, Senator Hatch, Senator Dodd, Representative Hoyer, and Representative Ehlers that the dreams of millions of Special Olympics athletes can be fulfilled going forward. This is a proud and promising day for everyone who supports the global Special Olympics movement and a humbling tribute to my mother, who had an improbable dream that she brought to reality,” said Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics International.
“I believe that through the simple act of friendship, society possesses a powerful force that can dramatically enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Senator Harkin, Senator Hatch, Senator Dodd, Representative Hoyer, and Representative Ehlers have demonstrated that they share this belief, and are a tremendous ally to the entire disability community. I am so grateful for their support of Best Buddies and our mission of friendship, employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Thanks to their efforts, hundreds of thousands of citizens with disabilities will benefit from the inclusion opportunities Best Buddies provides,” said Anthony K. Shriver, Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International.