Thursday, August 13, 2009
Reported by: NBC News
The general public is being given an opportunity Thursday to pay respects to Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Six hours were set aside for her wake at a church on Cape Cod, and mourners have turned out by the hundreds.
Far out numbering dignitaries attending the wake for Eunice Kennedy Shriver, are ordinary Americans.
"So thankful for what she did," says admirer Jenette Lablanc.
"I'm Danny Harrington and I'd here to say thank you to Mrs. Shriver for doing Special Olympics," said one athlete.
"She stand tall for all of us and loved us," added Special Olympian Mike Rhodes.
They have come from across the country, converging on the small Catholic church on Cape Cod that many in the Kennedy clan regularly attend. They're paying respects to the woman who inspired millions, including her own family, to help the helpless.
"She inspired me when I was 14 to spend 100 hours working in the Wasaak Home for the Retarded, which was in up-state New York," said her nephew Bobby Kennedy Jr.
Shriver was inspired herself to create the Special Olympics and work with the mentally disabled because of sister Rosemary's disabilities.
Her work is seen by many as a credit to the Kennedy family.
"Very giving to the community, caring about other people with all that their family has, their giving spirit shows an example to us all," said Larry Jeter of Philadelphia.
The Web site has had more than 100,000 visits since her death Tuesday.
Nearly 3,000 have left personal tributes.
And for her private funeral mass Friday, Special Olympians will be carrying into the church the Special Olympics torch.