May 28, 2014 | SOI General: Headquarters

Maya Angelou, True Friend of Special Olympics

By Christy White

Maya Angelou presented the chairman of Special Olympics, Sargent Shriver, with a signed print of her poem, "I Rise!" in 2003.

Special Olympics is mourning the loss of Maya Angelou, the American poet, activist and storyteller who inspired us all. Maya Angelou – winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many other honors - was a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics Movement. Most notably, she was a member of the Special Olympics support team at the last World Summer Games held in the USA -- the 1999 World Summer Games in North Carolina. At those Games, Maya Angelou read a special version of her poem "I Rise!" as a tribute to Special Olympics. "I Rise" repeats many of the verses from her poem "Still I Rise." The poem she read at the 1999 opening ceremony paid tribute to Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver and included a sentence that refers directly to the Games: "We have reached some incredible level to be in Raleigh, NC from Iceland, from Arkansas, from Paris, France. Imagine it, we are actually here rising, rising."

About Christy White: I am director of media and public relations for Special Olympics

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