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Remarks Honoring Eunice Kennedy Shriver at the Special Olympics Dinner

December 17, 1998

Thank you. Please be seated. Thank you. Pretty rowdy crowd tonight. [Laughter] I am delighted to join Hillary in welcoming all of you here. We're delighted to have you at this remarkable celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Special Olympics.

Let me say just for a moment, I am also thinking tonight about the brave American men and women in uniform who are carrying out our mission in Iraq with our British allies. I know that our thoughts and our prayers, indeed, those of all the American people, are with them tonight. And I wanted to say that what they are doing is important. It will make the world a safer, more peaceful place for our children in the 21st century.

I'd also like to say a word now about the Special Olympics. More than 30 years ago Eunice Kennedy Shriver had an idea as simple as it was revolutionary, to give young people with disabilities the chance to know the thrill of athletic competition, the joy of participation, the pride of accomplishment. Out of that powerful idea, dreamed up at a kitchen table and launched at a backyard in Rockville, Maryland, Special Olympics grew and grew and grew.

Just think of it, if you can remember back to the time before the Special Olympics, many people actually believed that people with disabilities were incapable of performing the most basic everyday activities, let alone competing in sports. But this year, 30 years later, there are more than one million Special Olympic athletes throwing the javelin, swimming the 500-meter butterfly, walking the balance beam—something most of the rest of us cannot do—[laughter]— and inspiring hope all over the world.

So tonight I ask all of you to stand and join me in toasting Eunice Kennedy Shriver; her wonderful family, who have supported her every step of the way; to all the people who work so hard year-in and year-out to make Special Olympics possible; and to the athletes who are an inspiration to us all—to Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the Special Olympics. Ladies and gentlemen, Eunice Shriver.

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 8 p.m. in a pavilion on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder, Special Olympics. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of First Lady Hillary Clinton.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Honoring Eunice Kennedy Shriver at the Special Olympics Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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