August 7, 2009 / 8:40 PM / 10 years ago

Eunice Kennedy Shriver hospitalized, critical

Honorary chairperson of the Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, smiles during a Special Olympics global law enforcement torch run ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, July 26, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed

BOSTON (Reuters) - Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of assassinated President John F. Kennedy and a champion of the rights of the mentally impaired, is hospitalized in critical but stable condition, a hospital official said on Friday.

Shriver, 88, was admitted to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Massachusetts, according to hospital spokeswoman Robin Lord, who declined to give further details of her illness.

She is surrounded by her husband, long-time Washington figure Sargent Shriver, children and grandchildren, Lord said.

“The family is grateful for the prayers of her many friends,” Lord said.

In 1968, Shriver, the sister of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and mother-in-law of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, founded the Special Olympics Games, which are is dedicated to the physical fitness of those with mental impairments.

Her advocacy was largely influenced by the challenges faced by her older sister, Rosemary, who was mentally impaired.

Reporting by Ross Kerber and Toni Clarke; Editing by Bill Trott

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