Anthony Kennedy Shriver is a charitable fellow. As the son of Eunice Kennedy and Sargent Shriver, respective founders of the Special Olympics and the Peace Corps, it is an unsurprising character trait, one he channeled in his college days when he founded Best Buddies International. The nonprofit organization supports the interests, pursuits, and aspirations of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, a mission it now carries out in 48 countries around the world.
Romero Britto is a noted Brazilian neo-pop artist. He first collaborated SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY with Best Buddies in 1994 and to this day continues to contribute to the Best Buddies cause, recently designing the jersey for this year’s Best Buddies Challenge here in Washington. He and Shriver have become good friends since that first partnership, a bond CapitolFile had the pleasure of witnessing during a recent conversation.
ROMERO BRITTO: Do you remember the first time you met me?
ANTHONY KENNEDY SHRIVER: Yes, of course, it was at our event in Palm Beach. It was the beginning of a great, mutually beneficial relationship that has lasted 20 years now. You have a magnetic personality and enormous compassion. It’s not only about your art, but also about enriching the lives of people in the community and sharing your optimism and enthusiasm that carries through with everyone in the community.
What inspired you to create the Best Buddies friendship-bear sculpture that we unveiled at the Time Warner Center [in New York City] earlier this year?
RB: In the vein of friendship and extending a [helping] hand to a friend, I wanted to celebrate Best Buddies with this beautiful sculpture. I wanted to encourage awareness about how difficult it is for a person and a family to be dealing with special needs, to wake up every morning and face challenges.
AKS: We are going to have the second Audi Best Buddies Challenge in Washington on October 22, and once again, you have been kind enough to design the jersey. What inspired you to create such a colorful jersey?
RB:I believe that in a charity organization, it is important that people can interact, spend time together, and create memories. The colors [symbolize] the opportunity to be part of such a journey, where people are celebrating life and friendship and creating bonds and memories. Then, to have a beautiful ride somewhere in the country—I am happy to be part of that, and I can’t wait to [create] bicycle jerseys for more rides around the country.
AKS: Let me say this about the Audi Best Buddies Challenge: We will have people running, riding through Washington, 20 miles of closed streets; and we will have a concert on the Mall and a great party the Friday night before the event. We hope to raise $2 million to support Best Buddies all over the world. It is a great way to generate awareness, raise money, and recruit more volunteers. We are going to have more than 500 high school and college kids participating in the youth event.
RB: You used to live in DC, correct?
AKS:I grew up in DC. I loved running from Georgetown down along the river, down to the Lincoln Memorial, down toward the Washing ton Monument to the Capitol on the Mall; I think it’s one of the most beautiful statues of land. Sometimes, in the summer, I would jump into the reflecting pool with friends—even though we weren’t supposed to. RB: And you actually founded Best Buddies while you were a student at Georgetown, right?
RB:And you actually founded Best Buddies while you were a student at Georgetown, right?
AKS: I lived in a place called Papermill, in Georgetown, across from the canal. I was sitting in my apartment with my roommate, who became the treasurer, trying to figure out how to organize it. And we structured it while sitting there.
You have spent a lot of time in DC—you have come to all of our events over the past 15 to 20 years. Other than the Best Buddies event, what is your favorite part of visiting Washington?
RB: It’s such a dynamic city in America, where so many amazing decisions are made. When I go to Washington, the feeling of all the energy of what is going on in the city, there is so much to see, so much taking place. I’ll be back in DC for Best Buddies, and I can’t wait for the next ride. More memories, more special moments. Maybe next time, I should try to jump in the water like you used to.