Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

A Letter from Oprah Winfrey

Eunice Shriver lived as a champion, and I admired her so much. She was the first (and besides Barack Obama, the only) person who ever inspired me to say, "If you run for president, I'll campaign for you." This was in the 1980s. I believed then and still do that she would have made a great president. She embodied the idea of leader as servant.

In 2004 I was vacationing in the Caribbean when the catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami hit. I was standing at the edge of a pier overlooking the water when suddenly I heard a strange commotion. Coming toward me was a woman wearing a swimsuit, a bathrobe, and a pink bathing cap flipped up around her ears; arms waving in the air, she was calling my name loudly. It was Eunice.

She wasted barely a moment on the niceties of Long time, no see, How are you, blah, blah. Instead, she dove right in: "I know you're on vacation, but what are you planning to do about the tsunami?"

"I...I...I don't have a plan right now," I stuttered. "I feel terrible, though. It's just awful what happened."

"Everybody feels terrible," she said. "But you can do something. Call Maria. Set up a meeting. Make a plan. Meet with Teddy. Do something."

This, to me, is the essence of Eunice Shriver. She was a woman who got things done.

Oprah Winfrey