Children's Health

Sergeant Shriver: Special Olympics Hero

Dec. 5, 2004: Eunice and Sergeant Shriver arrive at the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C.  (Reuters)

Dec. 5, 2004: Eunice and Sergeant Shriver arrive at the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. (Reuters)

Upon the passing of Sargent Robert Shriver, Jr., the special needs community has lost a champion. 

As President of Special Olympics from 1980-1990, chairman of the International Board of Directors from 1990-1996, and chairman of the Board Emeritus since 1996, Shriver has devoted his life to improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through sports. 

The effect of his work will continue to be felt by all who participate in these extraordinary events.

Shriver fought to bring national and international attention to the games and the athletes and in 2007, the largest ever Special Olympics World Summer Games were held in Shanghai. In addition to the now-expanding events in China, events have been held in Ireland, Japan, Austria, and Japan. This year, the Summer Games will be held in Greece.

The Special Olympics athlete oath is "Let me win. If I cannot win, let me be brave in my attempt." 

Shriver's work has encouraged athletes, families, and coaches to be brave and strive to reach incredible goals. His work has also inspired educators and parents to be brave and to dream big for loved ones with disabilities.

Special Olympics doesn't just allow people with special needs to participate in an athletic event; it celebrates those individuals' skills, strengths, and achievements. By guiding the organization to expand and excel, Shriver has done just the same for people with special needs.

Jennifer Cerbasi works as a special education teacher at a public school in New Jersey. As owner of The Learning Link, LLC, she works with parents in the home to support children's academic, social, emotional, and physical health through a variety of services. Jennifer utilizes her training in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis in both settings to foster children's development. In addition to her work both in the classroom and at home, she is also a member of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. For more information, go to

Jennifer is an educational consultant who works with families and educators to establish healthy and productive routines in the home and school. Adapting behavior management techniques she implemented for years as a special educator, she helps parents and teachers adopt these tools to fit their unique needs and priorities. Jennifer also speaks to parent and education groups on current topics in education and children's health. Visit