My Encounter with an Iconic Visionary-Dr. Timothy K. Shriver

Me and Tim

Me and Dr. Timothy K. Shriver

The excitement of attending the Special Olympics World Games, 2015, and displaying my poster and a breakout session presentation at the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) Global Summit on Innovations in Health and IDD was overwhelming.   My mind was racing with so many thoughts and anxiety; will I speak eloquently enough? Will the intended message be conveyed properly? Will I get to meet the legendary Timothy Shriver?  The thoughts went on and on.

I was very concerned because this was a great opportunity that was bestowed upon me, and I did not want to blow it.  I had the chance to speak to an audience of policy makers, company CEOs, deans of universities and many health care practitioners.  I also thought about the fact that my husband, Wilkenson Emile, my toughest critic, would be seating in the audience.  I knew he would not sugar coat anything; he would blatantly tell me the truth about every aspect of my presentation—I could not falter!

Me and Willy

Me and my husband, Wilkenson Emile-My Greatest Supporter and Toughest Critic

As I worried over what my performance would be like, I heard the voice of my sister, Dherlie Cox, echoing in my head.  She always say to me “be yourself, be genuine—your message will come across authentically.” So I set out to continue to speak from the heart.  Well, the day of, I was still overcome with anxiety of course; the room was packed with people.  There must have been over 200 people there—even standing up on the sidelines.  I started to speak and I thought of my sister’s message.  I told my audience stories about the people I work with and next thing I knew, it was all over and I was getting an ovation.  I walked back to my seat and asked my husband, “how did I do honey”?  He replied “I’m proud of you girl, you did great”!  I had a huge smile on my face, and I set out for my next quest to meet Tim Shriver.

Meanwhile, many individuals who heard my presentation stopped me in the hallway to ask me questions about what works; a few even asked me to come back to their state to help boost their programs for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

The following day after my presentation, I was invited to attend a breakfast to honor Dr. Evelyn Crayton- President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  She pulled me over and gave me some great pointers and offered her assistance anytime that I’m in need of it.  I was over the moon around this time, driving all over Southern California.   I said to myself, “even if I don’t meet Mr. Shriver, I’m pleased—this visit have been very fruitful”.

Dr Evelyn Crayton

Me and Dr. Evelyn Crayton- Past President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The moment of truth came, Mr. Shriver addressed the audience and urged everyone to find deeper and more meaningful ways to establish equality for “individuals with different abilities”.  As I watched him in awe, I thought, why I’m I so inspired by this person?  Then I answered my own question.  You don’t find many individuals who are authentically passionate about helping the less fortunate.  He and his family have devoted themselves to this population since they were young, and he kept his mother’s legacy going.  This type of dedication is rare; I only wish that I can become half as dedicated as he is.

Okay, so after listening to his speech, I thought “this is good enough for me”. I’m motivated to go back home and work harder than ever for my consumers.  Then as he dashed off the stage, my boss, Nancy Sawyer, who worked with his mom, Eunice Kennedy-Shriver since the beginning of the special Olympics Movement said to me “you want to meet Tim?”  I said with my eyes lit up “YES”.  She said “follow me”!—the rest is history.  Mr. Shriver knows and respect Nancy Sawyer very much, so when she called his name, he immediately stopped and took pictures with us, signed my book etc.  I even photo bombed a few other people’s pictures with him lol.

The clan

From left to right: Linsey Mullis, Karlyn Emile (me) Tim Shriver and the legendary, Nancy Sawyer

All of this to say that all things are possible when you believe.  Wake up every day and expect magical things to occur–I do.


To learn more about Dr. Shriver, read his book- Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most.  You can purchase it at this link:



One thought on “My Encounter with an Iconic Visionary-Dr. Timothy K. Shriver

  1. Karlyn I’m inspired by your story here. I can honestly say that this is a topic that many are not interested in. Historically, as a society, we are uncomfortable discussing this population, I’m glad that you are a champion for these individuals. Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

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