"I thought it was appropriate and fitting that a member of the Kennedy clan participate in this event as well," he said.
Kessler said he and Shriver became friends over the last few years after Shriver attended then-Gov. Joe Manchin's State of the State address in 2010, when it was announced the state would work with Save the Children to fight child poverty.
"I grew up a Kennedy Democrat. We were always fans of the Kennedys, their commitment to public service and particularly their commitment to helping disadvantaged individuals," he said.
Kessler, who has a print of Kennedy's presidential portrait hanging in his state Senate office, said those ideals have become part of his personal and political philosophies.
"It's our job to take care of the people, particularly those that don't have opportunities," he said. "I think there's nothing wrong with being idealistic. I think you can change the world a little piece at a time."
President Kennedy focused much of his administration's efforts on fighting poverty, including establishing the federal Food Stamp program, now known as SNAP. Alderson Muncy, an out-of-work coal miner from McDowell County, was the first American to receive food stamps.