Letter to the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver

August 21, 2009 at 8:08 PM Leave a comment

Dear Mrs. Shriver,

I am aware that this letter is a little late, failing to reach you before you left this earthly plane; but hearing of your death, I felt compelled to write despite the fact that you are not able to physically respond.

After reading many of the articles about your life, I have to admit you were quite a visionary.  At a time in history when people acted ashamed of the fact that their child exhibited fewer abilities than the norm, you choose instead to celebrate the abilities those children did have.

You recognized the hero lying dormant within these innocent children and ignited the spark of self-empowerment.  You built a platform to celebrate their individual accomplishments not by the standards of a particular sport, but by the struggles overcome to even compete.

Your brother Jack was thought to have embodied the Camelot myth – a king among his knights in a land that knows no limits.  Perhaps you embodied a much simpler story through your life’s work, “The Little Engine That Could.”  It takes only a minute or so to read the entire book, but I have learned to believe in its powerful mantra … “I  think I can!”

Eunice, you knew not everyone is born a king.  But despite the lot life deals us, we can often accomplish more than others or we ourselves believe.  The core message of the book is two engines join forces against a formidable obstacle and simply decide that “they can” master it.

In the lives of so many children with special needs, you were the second engine, the one who introduced the concept that “they could.”  On behalf of all of us here at AblePlay and the National Lekotek Center, we want to say thank you for starting the movement we play a humble role in today … helping children with disabilities get over the next hill.  Thank you.

“I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I think I can – I think I can – I think I can I think I can–“

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August 2009


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