Tim Shriver and his 26-year-old daughter Kathleen never expected that at this age, they’d be eating dinner together every night for three months and working side by side for 12 hours a day.

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, that’s exactly how they’ve been spending their time. While it’s helped them grow closer, it’s also helped them develop a vision to bring the Special Olympics – founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Tim’s mother and John F. Kennedy sister — into modern times.

“[Kathleen] saw a pathetic older man, unable to understand the changes in the culture,” Tim, 60, jokes to PEOPLE about his daughter’s input on his social media skills. “She’d call me and say, ‘Have you posted this? Have you done that?’ …. She’s taught me a heck of a lot about how to trust the power of connection.”





“I thought that was the most amazing thing in the entire world and has inspired my relationship with my cousins and my father and the rest of my family members because of the power I saw in that relationship and what it drove my grandma to do, which was change the entire world,” she says.

As for UNITE, Tim says it’s reminiscent of the inclusive world his mother hoped to build. So far, the initiative’s social channels have been spreading the word through daily wake-up calls, which users can partake in with the chance to have their responses featured.

A recent example that struck Kathleen in particular was her Jewish friend’s excitement over taking part in a wake-up call from Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren that encouraged people to share the ways in which they could re-fuel their soul amid the strains of the pandemic.

“We’re inviting people who are open to seeing the world through this lens, through the lens that doesn’t demonize others, which is not easy,” says Tim. “But once you see it, we’re inviting you to help us build it.”

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