MARIA Shriver is an American journalist and philanthropist who has also authored a number of self-help books.
Shriver finalized her divorce from her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in December 2021.
Who is Maria Shriver?
Maria Shriver, 66, was born in Chicago, Illinois to a family that was "driven to serve," according to her website.
Her father was Robert Sargent Shriver, the founding director of the Peace Corps, while her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, started the Special Olympics.
In addition to being motivated by her parents, Shriver was also influenced by her uncle, the former President John F. Kennedy, and her uncles Bobby and Teddy Kennedy who served in the US Senate.
"I have always been surrounded by extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. At times, it’s been challenging. But more often than not, it’s been motivating," Shriver wrote on her website.
She graduated from Georgetown University in 1977 and became the first person in her family to pursue journalism amidst the tradition of entering politics.
Throughout her career, she strived to make a difference and she eventually earned a Peabody Award for her 1998 report on welfare reform.
She has interviewed a wide range of people from Fidel Castro, to Ted Turner, Sarah Ferguson, and Magic Johnson but Shriver told Oprah in 2008 she had to work twice as hard to earn everything she got.
"I was always conscious that people would think I got the job because I was a Kennedy and that I wouldn't be one of the team," Shriver said. "I had to prove myself at every juncture. I worked hard."
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Her intense drive pushed her to make a difference and earned her two Emmy Awards and an Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Award for her show, The Alzheimer's Project.
She was also awarded the Pathfinders to Peace Award in 2009 for her contributions to various social causes and in 2017 she was the recipient of the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alzheimer's Association.
Shriver's career as a reporter took her to both CBS and NBC News which led her to try to make a difference in other areas of her life leading to numerous awards and recognition.
"I believed then — and I still believe now — that journalism can not only inform, but also inspire us," Shriver says on her website.
What books has she written?
Shriver wrote and published her New York Times Bestseller, What's Happening to Grandpa? in 2004.
It was a book she created when her dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and she realized there wasn't anything out there to explain the disease to children.
This realization led her to write What's Happening to Grandpa? and produce The Alzheimer's Project, which she said she had pitched to HBO before writing the book.
"This is a family disease and it affects people of all ages," Shriver told the Fisher's Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation in 2009.
"So, it was very important to me that we include the young people because they have a lot to say about it and we have a lot to learn from them about it."
Shriver has written nine books and her most recent title, I've Been Thinking, was released in 2018.
She said her need to move on to the next project and continue to be on the move was ingrained from birth and has become a part of who she is. When she finished one project, she would find something else to move toward, which was the topic of her 2008 book, Just Who Will You Be?
"I made the mistake of thinking that external accomplishments would bring me peace. I thought it was about the job or a book or making a name for myself.
"So many people would come up to me and say, 'Which Kennedy are you?' At a very young age, I thought, 'You're going to know which one I am.' I decided that I was going to be the Kennedy who makes her own name and finds her own job and works like a dog."
Several of Shriver's books have gone on to make the New York Times Bestseller list including, I've Been Thinking… (2018), Ten Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Went Into the Real World (2000), What's Wrong With Timmy? (2001), What's Happening to Grandpa? (2004), and What's Heaven? (1999).
What work has she done to raise awareness for Alzheimer's?
Shriver has worked tirelessly to find a way to combat Alzheimer's since her father was diagnosed with the disease in the early 2000s.
Alzheimer's is a disease that slowly destroys a person's memory and thinking skills, causing them to deteriorate to the point that they cannot carry out simple tasks on their own.
There is currently no cure for the disease and Shriver is working tirelessly to change that.
She founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM) to prepare victims of the disease and their family members for what lies ahead. WAM funds gender-based research to attempt to discover why women are disproportionately affected by the disease.
"Two-thirds of the brains affected by Alzheimer’s belong to women," Shriver says on her website.
"I’m determined to find out why. … I will do everything I can to fight this disease, and I will never stop fighting until it’s defeated."
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