When I found out that Eunice Kennedy Shriver - sister to JFK and founder of the Special Olympics - passed away earlier this week, the first thing I thought was, "I have been to your house." I guess that normally wouldn't happen with someone so famous. But two summers ago, I was fortunate enough to work at the Kennedy Shriver Mansion on River Road in Potomac for an event hosted by Most Valuable Kids, which brings underprivileged youth together with sports and entertainment figures.
I remember that members of D.C. United were there giving a soccer workshop, along with the Redskins cheerleaders, who were there to . . . well, I'm not quite sure. And I was there, scooping ice cream (this being with my former job) from a little cart whose contents rapidly went to soup in the summer heat.
This was my first time ever in Potomac, and every time we passed a house I'd have a near-heart attack because it was the biggest house I'd ever seen, and then we'd pass another house that was even bigger. The Kennedy Shriver Mansion seemed kind of unassuming after all of that, but looking back I really appreciated that they would open up their house to events like this so kids who come from far, far worse circumstances than I did could spend a Saturday afternoon in a big yard with games and ice cream and their heroes. It was miserably hot, and I was getting frustrated (I'd end up working, like, fourteen hours that day between this and another job that evening) but when I saw the smiles on their faces I knew it was all worth it.
So, whenever I hear about Eunice Kennedy Shriver, I'll think about all of this, and know she made it all possible, and remember that I'm not too young to have never known what the name Kennedy meant.