Click to view image: '9a1319e4d4c4-timshrivercp3677758.jpg'Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver, seen here at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai in 2007, said U.S. President Barack Obama apologized to him on Thursday for his Special Olympics gaffe on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
U.S. Special Olympics board chairman Timothy Shriver told ABC's Good Morning America on Friday that President Barack Obama called him immediately after taping The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to apologize for his quip about the Special Olympics.
Shriver said the president called him while he was returning to Washington on Air Force One, and prior to the program airing Thursday night.
"He expressed his disappointment and he apologized in a way that was very moving. He expressed that he did not intend to humiliate this population," Shriver said, adding that Obama said he would like some Special Olympic athletes to visit the White House to bowl or play basketball.
But Shriver noted: "I think it's important to see that words hurt and words do matter. And these words that in some respect can be seen as humiliating or a put down to people with specials needs, do cause pain and they do result in stereotypes."
Toward the end of the approximately 40-minute taping of the Tonight Show in Los Angeles, Obama spoke about how he was becoming better at bowling and was practising in the White House bowling alley.
"I bowled a 129," he told Leno.
And then he added: "It's like the Special Olympics or something."
The White House released a statement shortly after the gaffe to clarify the president's comments.
"The president made an off-hand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics," said White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton.
"He thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program."
Founded in 1968, the Special Olympics is a global non-profit organization serving 200 million individuals with intellectual disabilities.
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