Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a champion for the rights of the mentally disabled and founder of the Special Olympics, has died. She was 88. Shriver, sister of President John F Kennedy, had suffered a series of strokes in recent years.
She died at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis on Tuesday morning, her family said in a statement. The hospital is near the Kennedy family compound, where her sole surviving brother, Sen. Edward Kennedy, has been battling brain cancer.
Shriver was credited with transforming America's view of the mentally disabled from institutionalised patients to friends, neighbours and athletes. Her efforts were inspired by the struggles of her mentally disabled sister, Rosemary.
Shriver also was the sister of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, the wife of 1972 vice presidential candidate and former Peace Corps director R. Sargent Shriver, and the mother-in-law of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Sen. Edward Kennedy remembers his sister Eunice for her "great humour, sharp wit, and a boundless passion" as a young girl.
He said in a statement that his sister learned the lessons of their parents — that much is expected of those who have been given much.
Kennedy Shriver took those words to heart and created a worldwide movement — the Special Olympics.
Sen. Kennedy says the movement helped many mentally disabled people lead productive and fulfilling lives. He said that although his sister touched the lives of millions, it was never enough for her.