Royal Caribbean International has announced that Jean Driscoll
- world-class athlete, Olympian, Paralympian and international advocate for persons with disabilities - will serve as godmother to the line's newest ship, Mariner of the Seas, which debuts later this year. As godmother, Driscoll will officially give the ship its name during ceremonies in Port Canaveral, Fla., on Nov. 14, 2003.
"We are immensely pleased that such a prominent athlete and outstanding advocate for persons with disabilities will be the godmother of our newest, fully accessible ship," said Richard Fain
, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Jean is a true champion who excels in everything she does, in the sports arena and beyond. She has shown by example that physical disabilities need not limit life experiences, and we are proud to have her spirit lead a ship that was designed to ensure all guests can participate fully in the excitement of a cruise experience."
Driscoll's achievements range from winning the women's wheelchair division of the prestigious Boston Marathon eight times - the only person in Boston Marathon history to achieve that feat - to victories in both the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games. She was recognized by Sports Illustrated for Women as one of the top 25 female athletes of the 20th century and is also a world record holder in the 10,000-meter track event as well as the 10K and marathon road racing distances.
Driscoll, who was born with spina bifida, is actively involved with organizations for athletes with disabilities both in the United States and abroad. In the United States, she is the spokesperson for the ASPIRE project (Adapted Sports in Recreation and Education), which works to bring youth sports leagues for athletes with physical disabilities to each state, with a goal that someday all students with disabilities will have an opportunity to participate in sports programs.