Vanderbilt Kennedy Center celebrates Eunice Kennedy Shriver
The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center celebrated the life of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, lifelong champion of persons with intellectual disabilities and founder of Special Olympics, who died August 11 at age 88.
The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is one of 14 Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRCs) supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The NICHD and its IDDRC national network were renamed in honor of Mrs. Shriver in March 2008 in recognition of the impact that she had for almost five decades on the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Her vision and unrelenting efforts helped to establish the NICHD in 1962. Mrs. Shriver was a member of NICHD’s first advisory council, and it was under its guidance that the IDDRCs were established.
“The Kennedy and Shriver families were essential to the founding of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center,” said Elisabeth Dykens, director of the center. “Named in honor of President John Kennedy, ours was the second founded, made possible not only by a federal construction grant but also by matching gifts from the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation and Peabody College. Rose Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver all attended the Convocation marking our center’s founding on May 29, 1965. The Kennedys and Shrivers have never wavered in their commitment to and advocacy for persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.”