Remembering a Champion for Special Olympics
It is with great sadness that I share that we have lost a pioneer and champion for people with intellectual disabilities. Dr. Robert E. Cooke, 93, was a driving force who worked with my mother to advance the science and rights of people with ID.
A father of daughters with developmental disabilities, Dr. Cooke was a key adviser to my mother during the early years of Camp Shriver and the run-up to the founding of our movement. He helped establish the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, later renamed the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which today continues to be a leader in the advancement of health for children with disabilities. Fifty years ago, Dr. Cooke also worked with my father to fight America’s War on Poverty and led the Head Start program.
He was a member of the founding Special Olympics Board of Directors – and devoted his time and talent to the Board and the Special Olympics Movement through the crucial decades of 1968-1998. In later years, he was medical adviser to Special Olympics and also to the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation. As healer, teacher, mentor and passionate advocate, he was unequaled.
Dr. Cooke led a long, full and selfless life to make change for others and on behalf of our entire movement. We will forever be grateful for his work and guidance to create a better world for millions of people with intellectual disabilities.