Special Olympics' chairman focuses on serving others
The recent rush of ads and news reports about the upcoming Winter Olympics reminded me of one of the most moving experiences I had in recent years. At a PathNorth event I had the great privilege to meet Tim Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics. Tim is the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded the organization following her experiences with her sister Rosemary and other intellectually disabled people.
Like so many in the Kennedy family, Tim has always focused his life on serving others, especially the intellectually disabled. As the head of Special Olympics, which he joined in 1996, he is able to do that on a remarkable scale.
The first, one-day event in 1968 was witnessed by a crowd barely larger than the 1,000 athletes competing at Chicago’s Soldier Field. At the 2015 summer games in Los Angeles, more than 6,500 athletes competed over seven days before an estimated 500,000 total attendees. Over 30 years, Special Olympics has engaged 5 million athletes with intellectual disabilities from 172 countries, allowing them to find success, joy and friendship.
My take away from meeting Tim is that too often business leaders are focused on numbers instead of the people who make up their businesses and communities. If we focus on the people in our own lives, we won’t have to go far to find somebody to help.
You can read Tim’s full story in his book, “Fully Alive.”