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  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver with her arms around two students in uniforms standing next to a brick wall

    The ESPYS Celebrate Our Founder

    The late Eunice Kennedy Shriver received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for her work and the creation of Special Olympics.

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Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver Honored with Ashe Courage Award

Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver, one of Eunice Kennedy Shriver's children, accepted the honor on behalf of his mother at The 25th ESPYS Presented by Capital One on 12 July.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver wins the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver watches as a Special Olympics athlete flexes his arm muscle among a group in a stadium
Eunice Kennedy Shriver (front left) was the founder of Special Olympics. This photo was taken at the first International Special Olympics Summer Games in 1968.

About the Award

FROM ESPN: The Ashe Award is one of the most prestigious in sports. Recipients reflect the spirit of Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost. The award is inspired by the life that Ashe lived, using his fame and stature to advocate for human rights, although, at the time, those positions may have been unpopular and were often controversial. From speaking out against apartheid in South Africa to revealing to the world his struggle with AIDS, Ashe never backed away from a difficult issue, even though doing so would have been easier. Winners of the Ashe Award strive to carry on Ashe's legacy in their own lives - - inspired by those who do so each day.

A Visionary and a Revolutionary

"My mother was a visionary, but, more importantly, a revolutionary," said Shriver on behalf of the Shriver family and Special Olympics. 

"Fueled by love and anger, she used sport to break down the barriers, she used fields of play to bring people together, and she opened the doors of inclusion and equality to the most marginalized on Earth. It is now up to all of us to follow the athletes of Special Olympics who can teach us all to accept and include each other." 


Two men stand side by side with an ESPY award between them, surrounded by smiling co-workers in a conference room.
Kester Edwards, left, is one of the Special Olympics athletes around the country receiving local ESPY awards. Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver is at right.

Special Olympics Athletes Honored, Too

As part of the 25th annual ESPYS event, Special Olympics athletes around the United States are being honored with local ESPY Awards. These honorees are being recognized by the ESPYS organizers and their Programs as “amazing, inspirational athletes.” Each athlete is receiving a letter of commendation, along with an ESPYS statuette.

Read profiles of the honored athletes below.