Skip Navigation
NPR News
Sargent Shriver (Getty Images)

Sargent Shriver: A Friend Remembers

by Claudine Ebeid
Jan 19, 2011

Share this

Explore this

Reported by

Claudine Ebeid

In one of my first jobs out of college I worked for Special Olympics.  During that time I had the fortunate opportunity to travel to Syria with Special Olympics co-founder Sargent Shriver; it was one of his many trips around the world intended to improve the lives of mentally handicapped individuals. It's a trip I will never forget.

The first working day we had in Damascus I couldn't find Sarge anywhere. Then, while standing in the hotel lobby, I caught sight of him leading a wedding parade in the street. There he was, wielding a sword laughing openly and dancing with the couple's families. He couldn't have looked happier. I rushed outside and he caught my eye and raised his eyebrows with a smile and a glint in his eye as if to say we'll get to work in just a minute.

I didn't realize it then but this would set the tone for our work. Throughout our trip Sarge maintained that same enthusiasm. Whether he was talking with a Special Olympics athlete or meeting with a government official, he gave each person his rapt attention.

In my short trip with Sargent Shriver I learned an important lesson, that to touch the lives of many you must first begin by touching the life of just one individual.

Before we parted ways, as I returned to Washington and Sarge continued to Iran on more Special Olympics business, I got one last glimpse of the Shriver joie de vivre. On our last evening in Damascus we were taken to a karaoke lounge where Sarge insisted on belting out Frank Sinatra's "My Way" with so much gusto that the whole room joined in.

That trip was but a snippet of the life of a man who was a giant in the world of public service, but I believe it was a true example of his way.

Thank you, Sarge, for what you taught me and, I'm certain, countless others.

Claudine Ebeid is an Assistant Producer for NPR Newscasts.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

Visitor comments


NCPR is supported by:

This is a Visitor-Supported website.