A Letter from

Dennis Bruggemann

Regional President & Managing Director, Latin America, Special Olympics


This week we honor and pay tribute to a legend. An extraordinary Citizen of the World who inspired everyone he met to contribute toward making the world a better place. One of the truly great Statesmen of our time who set the highest standards for those dedicating their lives to public service. A remarkable Visionary who designed and launched one of the most successful and sustainable global volunteer programs to promote understanding and acceptance among people from different cultures. A Champion for the rights of women and persons with intellectual disabilities.

I am privileged to have known and worked with your dad during the past thirty years in two programs to which he devoted so much of this time and demonstrated so much of his talent and passion: Peace Corps and Special Olympics.

Our families and many friends were highly skeptical when Ann and I decided to forgo career opportunities to join the Peace Corps. It was some time after we returned from serving in a small community in one of the poorest states of Brazil that our family and friends began to understand the impact that our experience had upon us and upon others. Without knowing it at the time, we shared Mr. Shriver's belief that the world will be a better place when we bring people from different cultures together as a means toward promoting better understanding and acceptance.

Little did I know then how much of an impact Mr. Shriver would have upon our lives as we left Peace Corps and joined the Special Olympics family.

Countless memories of Mr. Shriver inspiring others...here are a few moments I shared with him that capture the essence of your dad, a role model for us all...

--At the National Summer Games in Brussels, he noted a Special Olympian running barefoot down the track and immediately took up the issue with the Games Organizers. The athlete had a pair of running shoes within the hour.

--During the Closing Ceremonies of a National Table Tennis Tournament for female athletes with disabilities in Tehran, Mr. Shriver spoke with passion about Mrs. Shriver's belief in the rights of all women to play sports and to be respected as equal citizens within their communities. The athletes and spectators immediately surrounded him, touched him and showered him with praise and affection.

--At Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, Mr. Shriver saw a nun waiting for a cab. He offered to accompany her to the monastery where she was staying. Having just returned from meeting with the Pope, Mr. Shriver had plenty of news to share with the nun. Upon arrival at the monastery, Mr. Shriver leaped out of the car, grabbed the nun's luggage and escorted her to the front door.

--Many evenings at headquarters, Mr. Shriver invited me down the hall to take another look at the world map. This was during the time when Special Olympics was beginning to expand internationally and become a truly global movement. He was so knowledgeable about the political and economic reality in whatever country happened to be the focus of our discussion, and he talked about leaders whom we should approach to start up a National Special Olympics Program.

--We were waiting at the Presidential Palace in Lisbon to meet with the First Lady. She was delayed in traffic more than an hour and Mr. Shriver had a flight to catch. I suggested we reschedule our appointment for a later date, knowing that he had an important family engagement back at the Cape and needed to be on that flight, but he insisted that we could not do such a thing to the First Lady. Our meeting with the First Lady was brief. When I mentioned the urgency of getting Mr. Shriver to the airport, she said not to worry --- she arranged for the police to stop traffic as we raced through the city in her private limo --- then called the airline to request them to hold the plane. They did. As Mr. Shriver ran down with his escorts to the plane, he turned and shouted, "Call Eunice and let her know I love her and will be home soon!"

Tim, what a great honor it was to work with and to get to know your dad. Know that he continues to inspire greatness in all of us!