- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

Despite the presence of Queen Noor of Jordan, Hollywood hearththrob Esai Morales and track legend Carl Lewis, the Shrivers kept things all in the family Saturday night, honoring one of their own at the glitzy Best Buddies' fund-raiser at the clan's Potomac manse.
Television reporter Maria Shriver, who shares the family's well-known dedication to volunteerism, received the Spirit of Leadership Award at the 13th annual ball at the home of her parents, Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
"You know, she just gave $1 million to the September 11th fund, so I figured if I honored her, I might get a little money myself," joked the youngest of her four brothers, Anthony Shriver, who founded Best Buddies to pair the developmentally disabled with student pals.
"She deserves it. She's worked very, very hard for us out in California, getting involved with the program at the grass-roots level," Anthony Shriver said in between welcoming guests. "And the book that she wrote this year 'What's Wrong With Timmy?' totally captures the whole spirit of Best Buddies."
Maria Shriver, shimmering in an elegant black-and-gold gown, said she wrote the book so parents can teach their children to respect their disabled peers.
"We all share the same desires; we all want to be loved, we all want to be validated," she said. "It has nothing to do with your IQ; it's just a human need."
Before handing over the award, the Shriver brothers, Anthony, Timothy and Mark, couldn't resist having a little fun at their sister's expense by reciting the "Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Maria Shriver."
No. 6 arguably got the biggest laugh: "Maria always says Mommy is a role model. Mommy married the first director of the Peace Corps and a great liberal Democrat, while Maria married Conan the Barbarian and a Ronald Reagan Republican."
"Conan," aka Arnold Schwarzenegger, remained somewhat elusive throughout the night, perhaps a gallant attempt to keep his wife in the spotlight. Inevitably, though, all eyes and cameras focused on the action star when he made his entrance in a classy tuxedo during cocktail hour.
After meeting with his brothers-in-law one by one, he exchanged pleasantries and golf stories with some very thrilled donors.
"Arnold is very much a real person," said ball veteran Jonathan Ledecky, who played golf with him once. "We just hung out, talking about life. He is very self-effacing and very modest one-on-one."
The event raised about $1.5 million for Best Buddies, thanks mostly to the continued support from the tech industry. America Online's Ted Leonsis, winner of last year's award and the presenter this year, donated more than $250,000.
The event also attracted the deep pockets of area chief executives, among them Richard Kay (OTG Software Inc.), Bruce Waldack (Thruport Technologies) and Raul Fernandez (Proxicom).
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who has been ill throughout much of the year, sat in the gallerylike foyer of her home to welcome well-wishers. The octogenarian matriarch showed few signs of slowing down.
J.T. Taylor of Kool & the Gang entertained, though the portable heaters set up around the massive dinner tent got a lot of attention from women shivering in backless and sleeveless evening wear (including four glamorous teammates from the Washington Freedom soccer team).
The night could not pass without acknowledgment of the recent terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.
Anthony Shriver acknowledged that many longtime supporters had asked him about about the propriety of postponing or canceling the ball in response to the tragedy. "I just want all of you to know," he told the 800 guests, "that I think it's more important that we have this event this year than any year in the history of this organization."
Guests were greeted by a large American flag hanging above the silent-auction items in the tent; volunteers wore patriotic ribbons next to their Best Buddies pins. Everyone received the lyrics to "God Bless America" and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in case they wanted to sing along during the program.
The hard-hit economy, meanwhile, didn't touch the bottom line. The live auction alone raised $170,000, thanks to such offerings as a Wimbledon vacation, a wine lover's week in California's Napa Valley and a Michael Jordan gift pack (two court-side tickets to a game and an autographed Washington Wizards jersey).
"The people who are really committed to Best Buddies are the people who have done very well financially," Mr. Ledecky said, explaining the generous bidding.
"It's been a highly successful event for 13 years, and tonight is no different," said Maryland state Delegate Mark Shriver, who is taking on popular Rep. Constance A. Morella this year for her long-held congressional seat. "They actually raised more money tonight than ever."


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