- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Greater Washington Sports Alliance will induct Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver into its Hall of Champions during the group’s annual SneakerBall event Sept. 15.

The nonprofit will honor Shriver, who died Aug. 11 at age 88, for her efforts to improve access to athletics for mentally disabled people.

“She’s obviously incredibly deserving,” alliance President Bob Sweeney said. “We just thought her life’s mission ties very closely with the mission of the sports alliance’s foundation, in giving every kid an opportunity. The thought was we would respect and honor and promote her cause.”

SneakerBall, a gala honoring the best of D.C.-area sports in the previous year, will be held this year at the National Building Museum.

Sponsorships and money raised from ticket sales will support a variety of local charities, including the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation and United For D.C., a literacy organization supported by D.C. United. Sweeney said the alliance has sold about 850 tickets with a goal of at least 1,000.

Shriver, a sister of President John F. Kennedy and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, will be the 16th person inducted into the Hall of Champions and the first to be honored posthumously. Previous inductees include former Redskins Hall of Famers Art Monk and Darrell Green, Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.

Sweeney said the honor has been accepted by members of the Kennedy family and the Special Olympics, both of whom will have representatives in attendance at SneakerBall.

Shriver was inspired to found the Special Olympics in 1968 by her sister Rosemary, who suffered from a developmental disability, and was its spokeswoman for more than three decades. She also helped found the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which was recently renamed in her honor. Her husband, Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., helped form the Peace Corps.

President Ronald Reagan awarded Shriver the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1984 for her work on behalf of the mentally disabled, and Sports Illustrated last year named her the first recipient of the Sportsman of the Year Legacy Award.

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