Maria Shriver and Other Dignitaries Gather to Unveil the Special Olympics' Eunice Kennedy Shriver Plaque in Athens, Greece

June 26, 2011

For Immediate Release

Ceremony Paid Tribute to the Movement’s Founder, on the Occasion of the First Day of Competition of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens

ATHENS, GREECE - Maria Shriver and other dignitaries gathered for the unveiling of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Park today in Athens, Greece, to honor the memory and monumental contributions of the Special Olympics founder as part of the 2011 World Summer Games. Shriver gave a statement paying tribute to her mother’s legacy as her brothers Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics, Mark Shriver and Robert Shriver looked on, along with their spouses and children. Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden, Olympians Michelle Kwan, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo, Bart Conner, Edwin Moses and Donna DeVarona were also present for this ceremony.

Said Shriver: “Mummy would be thrilled that this park is in Athens because it's named after the Goddess Athena. As we all know, the Goddess Athena is the goddess of wisdom, but she is never depicted without her shield and without her helmet because she is a warrior. At heart, she is a warrior. As every woman knows, you have to be both. You have to know when to be wise. You have to know when to be compassionate. And you have know when to put on your helmet, take out your spear, put on your shield and go to war -- and fight for what you believe in. And Mummy was, at her heart, a warrior. She woke up every day and fought…that's what she did her whole life."

“The park is marked by a marble monument inscribed with the word 'EYNIKH' (ef-ni-ki), Greek for Eunice, which translated means 'Good Victory' – a phrase that so accurately describes her commitment to human triumphs both large and small. Located in the Maroussi municipality of Athens, it is close to the OAKA stadium, which, built for the 2004 Olympics, is now home to many of Special Olympics World Summer Games sporting events including tennis, athletics and volleyball".

Also speaking were George Patoulis, Mayor of the Municipality of Maroussi; Joanna Despotopoulou, President of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens; His All Holiness, Bartholemew, Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch; and Deon Namiseb, Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger.

"Special Olympics is a passion that will never die,” said Namiseb, who is a former Special Olympics athlete and current coach of Team Namibia. “The flame will flame in our hearts for the rest of our lives. On behalf of all the athletes, thank you." A short video on life can be seen here: http://specialolympics.org/_video_Deon_Nambia_short.aspx 

The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games began last night with Opening Ceremonies at the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the very first Olympics, and featured performances by Stevie Wonder and Vanessa Williams. This event is the world's largest multi-day summer sporting event this year and will conclude after two weeks of competition on July 4th, uniting nearly 7,000 exceptionally talented athletes to compete in 22 Olympic-type sports, as well as 125 coaches from nearly 180 nations. Team USA alone is comprised of 315 athletes.

"I think it was a great evening for Greece last night. It showed that you can come together in spite of all odds,” said Shriver. “And that picture last night was a beautiful picture for Greece and for the world because it says that no matter what country we come from, no matter what religion we are, no matter what our ethnic backgrounds, that we can come together in the spirit of compassion, understanding and hope. That's a great message for the world at this time."

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