Eunice Kennedy Shriver was an American hero.
She always believed in putting others first.
Such was certainly true when it came to helping those with special needs -- be they children or adults.
It was because she cared so much about those who couldn't help themselves that she became founder of what is known as Special Olympics.
Mrs. Shriver, sister of the late President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and current U.S. Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy, died last week. She was 88.
Mrs. Shriver, who founded Special Olympics in 1968, was inspired to do what she did by her sister, Rosemary Kennedy, who was developmentally disabled.
Mrs. Shriver did an incredible job in my opinion, letting the world know that disabled people could do far more than we could ever imagine.
Mrs. Shriver, also the mother of California first lady Maria Shriver, proved to be a wonderful ambassador for Special Olympics.
As an admirer of the Kennedy family, I always thought of Mrs. Shriver in a very special way. She had so much compassion for those with disabilities, because she made it a point first to understand their struggles and their hope of being accepted.
Mrs. Shriver conveyed those two giant concerns around the world.
As much as her three brothers were famous in the political world, so too, was Mrs. Shriver for all she did in a much different arena. She thought what she was doing was just as important as what they did.
And she was right.
Years ago, I served as a volunteer with Special Olympics in Augusta. As a reporter, I did a variety of news features and promoted the event in any way I possibly could. During the course of my research in preparing certain articles, I remember receiving information from Mrs. Shriver.
I remember thinking how nice it was that a woman in the late '60s and '70s could pick up such a torch and run with it -- especially considering that women had significant problems being accepted as thinkers and doers in our society then. Mrs. Shriver never let such thinking stand in her way.
She was not only a very determined woman, but very courageous, too.
What Mrs. Shriver did helped to change social attitudes. She helped make our country a better country by making us all aware of the everyday struggles of disabled people.
I recognized her many years ago as an American hero. I shall always remember what she did and the way she went about it -- with dignity and gracefulness.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver was truly one of the all-time outstanding American women.