Anthony (LEFT) and Tim Shriver pose for a photo with Joe Jonas (CENTER) in DC last January at a reception honoring the life of Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
CAPITOL FILE: Your mother, Eunice, passed away one year ago this month. How would you describe her to someone who’d never met her?
TIM SHRIVER: My mother was never content. She had a restless dissatisfaction with the status quo. She gave me that, the idea that there’s no rest as long as bias and exclusion exist. But at the same time, she made [work] fun. She was quick to make fun of herself—and would smile all the way through serious business. My mother was great about doing [things that were] fun and important at the same time. She often brought those two things together with a passionate love of life. She had an enormous faith and the worldview that everybody mattered— and she had a tremendous amount of anger about the injustice she saw around the world. But she had the smarts to know how to make a difference. I think those gifts served her well.
CF: What do you believe is her legacy?
ANTHONY SHRIVER: She had an unwillingness to accept the word no. The fire in her belly was so strong. Her family was a group of hard-working, aggressive people who really believed in social change. So she felt possessed with the idea that we need to make the world right for [those with] intellectual disabilities. She was unrelenting in her desire to make the world better. I think her life and legacy reconfirm that you can make a huge difference in the world without having been elected to office. We’re hoping that her life story is a great inspiration for young people who want to serve or get involved with social justice.
CF: Tell me about the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Challenge 20-mile cycling event and 5K race that you’re launching in DC on October 23.
TS: My mother was all about the future, sports and play and recreation. Anthony and I figured that instead of a long memorial service, this was much closer to what she was about. I think it’s not the traditional memorial service. This bike race challenge is the way to do it. You come out, have fun and raise money for a great cause. What’s not to like about that?
AS: The event captures the spirit that my mom had with all of her social-justice work. We’re trying to create something that will celebrate her legacy. It’s a great tribute to my mom and her enthusiasm and interest in sports and events that showcase the talents of [those with] intellectual disabilities. It’s a great opportunity for families to participate as well.
CF: Tell me about Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day. How did it come to life? And what will happen on that day?
TS: As a family, we could never have imagined the outpouring of gratitude and prayer and solidarity that came with saying goodbye to our mother last summer. I think we were kind of told in those days of passing that the world was not quite prepared to let go of the dream [she held]; and this day is a chance to help keep that dream alive. The global celebrations will all be as different as the world is. There are no set parameters for how people can participate. We’ll just be hoping to convey the message that every person counts and every person can make a difference. The plus sign in the logo for EKS Day is there to encourage people to add to her legacy. The event will be a chance to celebrate her spirit and her mission to be a change maker. It’s just a chance to be a part of who she was and to make that difference come to life.
AS: I think the main underlying premise is ‘get involved.’ The theme we’re using is ‘Play On.’ However you want to do it, the point is to do something. It could be helping someone find a job, becoming a coach or challenging someone else to do something. My mother was brilliant at making people feel like they need to get off their cans and get engaged and active.