Special Olympics mourns the loss of Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, a beloved advocate for people with intellectual disabilities. She was the eighth child and youngest daughter of Rose and Joseph Kennedy, sister to U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics.
“I am grateful for the prayers and expressions of love that have come to me in recent hours as my family and I grieve the loss of my Aunt Jean. She was a loyal sister, a great aunt, an effective peace maker, and a fierce advocate for people with intellectual disabilities. Her legacy is alive and growing on through the work she led at the Kennedy Foundation, Very Special Arts and her lifelong support for Special Olympics.”
Since 1964, Ambassador Smith has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Joseph P. Kenney, Jr. Foundation, helping to provide grants to promote awareness and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. In 1974, Smith founded Very Special Arts, an international organization that provides creative arts opportunities and education for people with disabilities.
She was nominated by President Clinton to serve as Ambassador to Ireland from 1993-1998. In 2011, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor for her work with Very Special Arts and those with disabilities.