Posts Tagged ‘Best Buddies’

The OK List of America's Best

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

As we congratulate Bill and Kathy Magee and Senator Orrin Hatch on their well-deserved recognition in November’s U.S. News & World Report, we are mindful of other great leaders with whom we have had the privilege of working during the past year. With that, I’d like to contribute an “Operation Kids: America’s Best Leaders in 2009″ by highlighting additional leaders who have made an enormous impact in their communities and, due to their commitment and influence, the world.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver: In 1989 Anthony created a mentoring program on his college campus. That project turned into a life’s work. Today, through his stewardship and entrepreneurial spirit, Best Buddies® has grown into a leading nonprofit entity with increasingly international reach across six continents. It has established a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They positively impact more than 400,000 participants every year.  The organization is active in each of the 50 United States, and operates accredited international programs in 44 countries.

Drew Brees:   When Drew left the San Diego Chargers and signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2006, he and his wife Brittany took a higher view of the situation. They believed that they were directed to New Orleans for a reason, and committed to become part of the community. They immediately sought way to help rebuild post-Katrina. Today, Drew and Brittany have rebuilt nearly a dozen successful projects including athletic facilities, day care centers and critical education programs. Their adopted city of New Orleans have hailed them as true “Saints” in the city.

Steve Young: With an NFL Hall of Fame career behind him, Steve maintains a broadcast career, participates in a private equity firm, and continues to provide leadership of the Forever Young Foundation. Forever Young Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves children facing significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges. They focus on efforts to provide academic, athletic, and therapeutic opportunities to at-risk youth. They have expanded beyond their historical focus on Northern California, Arizona and Utah, to include development projects like the Forever Young Zones, Youth Education Town Centers (YET Centers) in each Super Bowl city and now, international initiatives including the building and expansion of schools in Ghana, Africa.

John A. (Jack) Calhoun: In his “retirement,” Jack manages the 13-California City Gang Prevention Network for the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families. In 2007 and has published a book, Hope Matters: The Untold Story of How Faith Works in America. He has spent a lifetime attempting to improve the lot of children and families and the communities in which they live. President Carter appointed Jack to the nation’s top children’s job, Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, where he oversaw such programs as Head Start, Child Welfare, The Center to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect, the Office of Domestic Violence and the Office for Families. For 20 years he served at the National Crime Prevention Council as its President and CEO. He also has served as Vice President of the Child Welfare League of America, was the Massachusetts Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services, and chair of both the Adolescent and the State of the Family Task Forces.

We give our deepest gratitude and respect to these great Americans who have truly made an enormous impact on their communities and the world around them.

Mourning the Passing of a Legend: Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

This morning, when I logged into my e-mail, I had a message from Anthony Shriver, announcing the passing of his mother, 88-year-old Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The world has lost a great humanitarian.

As you know, Anthony Shriver is the founder of one of our family of “OK-approved” charities – Best Buddies. We have a great admiration for him and for his mother, who founded the Special Olympics. Both are avowed champions of children who are intellectually disabled, and we salute them for their legacy, their work and the amazing organizations that have resulted.

I would like to share a portion of Mr. Shriver’s e-mail with you. He wrote:

“…My Mother’s efforts on behalf of individuals with intellectual disabilities – particularly her work with Special Olympics – inspired me to similarly devote my life to this shared mission. Through her unwavering faith in their abilities, she helped me – and countless others – to appreciate the fact that everyone is capable of something exceptional; especially with the support and encouragement of friends and family. Through her exemplary endeavors, I learned that this support network is one of the most valuable assets anyone can and should have, regardless of one’s abilities or disabilities.”

We couldn’t agree more. Today, we give brief pause to recognize a great woman who celebrated the wonderful things that those with intellectual disabilities bring to this world. May her legacy continue to inspire us, and may the organizations which she founded and inspired continue to do great work for those whose voices were silenced for far too long.

In accordance with their mother’s legacy, the Shriver family members have asked that:

“In lieu of flowers, and your sentiments indeed are forever appreciated, please consider making a donation in my Mother’s name to an organization dedicated to the individuals she so lovingly devoted her life to, such as either Best Buddies ( or Special Olympics (, in order to help ensure that her inspiring legacy will live on in our mission of friendship.”

On that same note, for those who are Best Buddies supporters, we are helping raise funds to create a Best Buddies Citizen Utah Chapter at a breakfast on August 19. We will match any donation (up to $50) given through August 19. Simply click here and select “Best Buddies Citizen Utah Breakfast.” You also will have the option to make the donation in memory of someone, if you wish to make a donation in Eunice Kennedy’s memory.  We will ensure the message gets to Mr.  Shriver.

May God bless a woman who touched so many lives for the better.