ABU DHABI, 14th March, 2019 (WAM) — Karen Pence, Second Lady of the United States, and the wife of the Vice President, has said that the Special Olympics is a great event showing how difference one person – i.e. Founder of Special Olympics Eunice Kennedy Shriver – can make to better the lives of many people all over the world.
Speaking to the Press Attache at the US Embassy in the UAE Nadia Ziyadeh on the occasion of the Special Olympics Abu Dhabi 2019, Pence said that attending the Special Olympics as an event is very inspiring, adding that it is amazing to see over 7,500 athletes from 192 countries competing and cheering each other on.
“It is such a privilege to head the US delegation to the Special Olympics. Our whole team and everybody in the delegation is excited to come and cheer each others.”
After watching a football match between the US and Kenyan team played as part of the Special Olympics, Karen Pence said she was moved by the scene of the players from the two teams hugging together and congratulating each others in what she described as a feeling of camaraderie and global harmony.
She paid tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who in 1962, founded Camp Shriver, which later evolved into Special Olympics.
“When you think of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, you think of difference one person can make. That is what so inspiring about it. The Special Olympics is mostly volunteered and to see all these people supporting these athletes all year round is just an amazing thing.”
Eunice Kennedy Shriver believed in justice. But, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, she saw little justice in the way people with intellectual disabilities were treated.
She saw they were excluded and routinely placed in custodial institutions. They were often ignored and neglected, yet she knew they had many talents and gifts to offer.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver had a sister, Rosemary, who had an intellectual disability. She and Rosemary grew up playing sports together and with their family. The sisters swam, they sailed, they skiied, they played football together. But in those days, there were limited programs and options for someone like Rosemary.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver went on to become an athlete in college. She began to see that sports could be a common ground to unite people from all walks of life.
Asked about the schedule of her visit to the UAE, Pence said that, during her stay in Abu Dhabi, she will also visit the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi to see “how people from the UAE and the United States work together and support each other.”
Abu Dhabi is sister city of Houston, Texas she added. We have a gift and a letter from the people of Houston that we are delivering this afternoon. We also have a gift to take back from Abu Dhabi to Houston in about a month. That’s just a great sense of citizen ambassadorship.