Eunice Kennedy Shriver listens as she in inducted into the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Hall of Honor for her role in helping to form the NICHD during a ceremony honoring her contributions to metal health at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland on March 3, 2008. In addition to being named into the hall of honor the National Institute of Health renamed the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Research Centers. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was an early spokesperson for mental disabilities and an advocate for childrens mental health. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo
HYANIS, Mass., Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Eunice Kennedy Shriver, younger sister of President John Kennedy and founder of the Special Olympics, died Tuesday in a hospital in Massachusetts. She was 88.
Pushed by love for her developmentally disabled sister, Shriver devoted much of her life to raising funds for and awareness of people with mental disabilities.
She was admitted to the Cape Cod, Mass., hospital's intensive care unit last week for an undisclosed reason.
Shriver is the wife of Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps and a former U.S. ambassador to France. He was a Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1972.
She is the mother of broadcaster Maria Shriver, wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Shriver received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, from President Ronald Reagan in 1984 for her work with the disabled.
The fifth child of America's powerful and enigmatic Kennedy family, Shriver was born July 10, 1921, in the family's home on Naples Avenue in Brookline, Mass.
On May 23, 1953, she married Robert Sargent Shriver, a member of her father's staff, whom she had known for several years.
In 1968, she founded the Special Olympics for handicapped athletes, the first systematic effort to provide sports training and athletic competition for individuals with mental retardation.
She also headed the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, named for her brother killed in World War II, which helps fund research to prevent mental retardation and works to improve the lives of the mentally disabled. Shriver was a major force in opening the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center in Waltham, Mass., in 1969 for children and adults with developmental deficiencies.
Shriver is survived by her husband, five children, brother Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and a sister, Jean Kennedy Smith.