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York, Pa.’s Loretta Claiborne about friend Eunice Shriver: ‘She could have gone anywhere, but she wanted to help humanity’

York, Pa.’s Loretta Claiborne joins other Special Olympians and Eunice Kennedy Shriver in this portrait hanging in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. From left are Airika Straka, Katie Meade, Andy Leonard, Claiborne, Shriver and Marty Sheets. According to the York Daily Record/Sunday News, this was the first portrait commissioned by the museum that was not of a person who had served as president or first lady. (See additional photo below.) Background posts: William Penn Senior High School Hall of Fame honors a host of York County achievers and Loretta Claiborne’s achievements bring spotlight her way and Who were most prominent 20th-century sports heroes in York and Adams counties?

Special Olympian Loretta Claiborne first met Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1972 and crossed paths with her again in 1980. The two kept in touch after that.
In an interview at the time of Shriver’s death, Claiborne told the York Daily Record/Sunday News: “She was a woman of wealth. She could have gone anywhere, but she wanted to help humanity.”
But how did York’s celebrity Special Olympian get involved with those games to begin with? … .

In this 1975 AP file photo, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, left, has fun with developmentally disabled children from Margaret Chapman School in New York. Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics, died at age 88 in 2009.

A booklet about Claiborne “In Her Stride,” tells that story:

“By the time I was in high school, anger had become my way of getting through life. I didn’t want anyone to bother me. I just wanted to come home from school every day and be my angry self.
“In those days, I was working part time at a sheltered workshop. I used to run from home to the workshop, even though there was a free bus. A counselor at the workshop saw me running and suggested I go to a Special Olympics track meet. At first, I didn’t want to go! I didn’t want to think they’d want a ‘retard’ from the projects – that’s how I saw myself.”

Related posts about Kennedy visits to York County:
– JFK stumped for the presidency in York County. For details, click here.
– RFK was here, too. Click here for details.
– So was Ted Kennedy. Click here.