NEW YORK—Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of former President John K. Kennedy and founder of the Special Olympics, died at age 88 on Tuesday morning at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Mass., after a series of strokes.
Before her death, she was accompanied by her husband, her five children, and her 19 grandchildren.
“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver,” said President Obama in a statement. “Eunice was many things to many people: a mother who inspired her children to serve others; a wife who supported her husband Sargent in the Peace Corps and in politics; and a sister to her siblings.”
Obama said that above all, she will be remembered as the founder of the Special Olympics, who taught the world that no physical or mental barrier can restrict the “power of human spirit.”
Currently, the Special Olympics serve more than three million athletes with mental disabilities around the globe.
Biden also praised her. In a statement, he referred to her as, “One of those rare individuals whose energy and spirit were contagious. She inspired everyone around her to be better, to see beyond themselves, and to experience joy in life through service.”
Biden then noted some of her legacies, including her summer camps across the country that gave young people with intellectual disabilities opportunities to engage in sports and companionship.
Aside from being sister to JFK and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Shriver was also the wife of 1972 vice presidential candidate R. Sargent Shriver, the mother of former NBC newswoman Maria Shriver and the mother-in-law of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.