Two months after the Olympic Games and a month before our national elections, Octobers Coin of the Month (Volume 2, Number 2) is a 1995-P PCGS PR69DCAM Special Olympics Commemorative Dollar featuring Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
The 1995 Special Olympics Games Commemorative Dollar has the same metallic composition and dimensions as a standard US silver dollar. The mintage of the proof coin struck in Philadelphia, is 351,764 while the uncirculated coin struck at West Point, has a mintage of 89,301. The obverse of this coin, designed by T. James Ferrell and based on the art of Jamie Wyeth, portrays a left facing profile of the founder of the Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Around the upper perimeter of the obverse is the inscription, Special Olympics World Games. The reverse, designed by Thomas D. Rogers, features a Special Olympics medal, a rose, and a quote by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, as we hope for the best in them, hope is reborn in us. Further distinguishing this coin from other commemoratives is the fact that this coin is the first US coin to honor a living woman.
Eunice Mary Kennedy Shriver was born to Joseph and Rose Kennedy on July 10, 1921 in Brookline, Massachusetts. The fifth of nine siblings, including three brothers named John, Bobby, and Teddy, Eunice hails from one of the most prominent political families in the history of the United States. On May 23, 1953, Eunice married Sargent Shriver, who himself became the founder and first director of the Peace Corps. Their marriage together lasted 56 years until Eunice's death, on August 11, 2009.
Born into a prominent family, it would not be a stretch to say that Eunice was born into a life of privilege; nevertheless, Eunice chose to use her status as a Kennedy to serve others. As a person with an incredibly warm and caring heart, its impossible in the space of a single article to enumerate all of her philanthropic activities. With that said, I intend to focus on those activities and honors for which Eunice is best known.
Perhaps more than anything, Eunice cared most about childrens health and disability issues, and as a result was a key founder of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. However, Eunice is best known for her work with Anne Burke in establishing the Special Olympics for the intellectually disabled.
The Special Olympics is an athletic competition designed to impart on its participants joy, honor, courage, and dignity. From the first games in 1968, the Special Olympics have grown into a movement that currently has four million athletes training in 170 countries.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver has received numerous awards and honorary degrees. The most widely known of those awards is the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded to her by President Ronald Reagan on March 26, 1984 for her work with the intellectually disabled. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States.
The rose featured on the reverse of the Special Olympics World Games commemorative coin is of special significance. A single red rose signifies courage and respect, hope, joy, love, and beauty. The Special Olympics logo on the medal signifies growth, confidence, and joy among persons with intellectual disabilities. The spherical shape of the logo represents global outreach.
I have always been curious as to why the mintage of the proof Special Olympics World Games commemorative coin is so high when compared with other commemorative coins. During my research for this article, I learned that a single corporate benefactor purchased 250,000 of these coins. Subsequently, those coins were given to Special Olympics athletes in 1998.
In summary, I have heard from a few collectors that this coin is not particularly aesthetically pleasing. On the surface, I can see their point. However, if you can only look beneath the surface, you will discover an extraordinary beauty in the selfless, warm, and caring heart of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. So for now, until next time, happy collecting!
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