This week President and Mrs. Obama hosted a beautiful dinner to honor the Special Olympics movement — we’re less than one year away from the World Games in the town I now call home, Los Angeles.
The White House was alive with the voices and the stories of Special Olympic athletes from all over the world.They spoke bravely of their challenges. Of being called stupid, of being told they would never amount to anything in life. And how they turned adversity into opportunity.
Families spoke of isolation, harsh judgments and then of coming together to fight for respect, acceptance, inclusion, and unity.
Katy Perry sang about unconditional love and you could hear the “Roar,” both internal and external, of people who had struggled only to find community and family with Special Olympics.
My mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, started this program more than fifty years ago.
She had a sister, Rosemary, who had an intellectual disability. She saw her own mother, Rose Kennedy, struggle to find opportunities and friends for her.
My mother pushed her brother, President John F. Kennedy, to invite people with intellectual disabilities (I.D.) to the White House to be seen and accepted by those in power. She did that and more for people who felt excluded and left out.
All along the way, she made sure my four brothers and I worked together to support each other in everything we each did.
So this week the four of them, Bobby, Mark, Timmy, Anthony and I were together at the White House. We were there in support of the movement our mother started, Special Olympics, which my brother Timmy runs today. We were there in gratitude to the President for shining a light on the millions of people with a I.D. and their families.
We were there in support of family. Ours and those who have supported us along our way.
Healthy living requires a connection. We all need people we can reach out to rely on. My brothers are an integral part of my village. They pick up the phone, they show up, they listen. They are there for me every step of the way.
My brothers are amazing men, collectively and individually. They are all fun-loving, handsome, smart, kind and thoughtful. They are great fathers and wonderful husbands and uncles. They each work to make the world a better place and they treat their one and only sister with love, respect, and kindness.
I always wanted a sister growing up. I now have four wonderful sister-in-law’s. But, I gotta say, I wouldn’t trade any one of my four brothers for a sister. I wouldn’t trade being the only girl in a family of boys.
I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true. I got lucky in the brother department. I know it and I love it.
Here’s to brothers and families. #PassItForward