April 2023 Change Makers

Cody Gordon

Athlete of the Month

Cody got involved with Special Olympics Colorado just a couple of years ago as an unassisted mono-skier and a bowler. He learned to mono-ski through Colorado Discover Ability from 2014 through 2016. During that time, he was asked to join their ski team. After graduating from Colorado Mesa University, Cody joined the CDA team, Team Powderhorn. Cody said he also gave softball a try last year and is going to try out track and field for the first time this year.

“I have learned that Special Olympics is a place where I can not only compete and challenge my abilities, but it is also a place to meet new people and build strong, lasting friendships,” said Cody. “Special Olympics provides me with a sense of inclusion simply because the activities are more than just winning or losing in competitions. Participation in Special Olympics events are also about learning how to safely enjoy sports and provide many opportunities for new experiences and new personal relationships.”

When he is not competing in Special Olympics, Cody said he enjoys participating in indoor rock climbing, hippotherapy, cycling, sled hockey, kayaking and wheelchair tennis. He participates in all of these sports and activities through various local nonprofit organizations in Mesa County.

“Because of my determination to excel at any chosen activity and my strong faith in God, I have been successful in taking my skillsets into the ‘real’ world,” Cody added. Last year, he was offered a position with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as the first All Abilities Ambassador for Mesa County.

“Over the past 7 or so months serving in this role, I have helped create the first All Abilities Sports Camp in Mesa County,” Cody explained. “This amazing camp hosted over 20 athletes of all mental or physical abilities. The future growth opportunities for this camp are limitless.”

We’re so glad to have Cody as part of the Special Olympics Colorado family and congratulations on being recognized as the April Athlete of the Month!



Jolene Bingaman

Volunteer of the Month

Jolene (pictured right) and her husband, John, first got involved with Special Olympics Colorado in 1986 when she wanted to show her son what really matters in life and how people live their amazing lives.

Jolene said she loves her athlete family. She explained, “I love that RJ took my arm and let me walk in the athlete march with him. I love that Heidi calls me every spring and fall to remind me to change my clocks. I love the hugs I get from Makenzie and Hanna and MaiLin and Jeff and and and… I love that I have been accepted into this amazing family. I believe our athletes are God’s most precious lambs and I am blessed to be able to participate in their lives.”

Jolene added that she also loves her Special Olympics Colorado family and how she loves watching volunteers’ faces when they interact with athletes and truly learn what it’s all about. “I love the group of people who work very hard planning every detail to make each event amazing for our athletes,” she said.

Over the years, Jolene and her husband have done everything from picking up trash to awarding medals and ribbons to being part of the Games Organizing Committee. Jolene said that her favorite memory was seeing the love in John’s eyes when he interacted with his SOCO family. Once during an interview, they were asked if they had any children involved in Special Olympics and she answered no, but John stepped in and replied, “Yes, we have about a hundred.”

Jolene encourages others to get involved. She recalls a time when Susan Foege, Senior Director of Sports and Competition, told a group of volunteers to go change a life. “I asked a volunteer if he had changed a life and he said, ‘Yes. It was mine.,'” Jolene remembered. “I would encourage anyone to spend one day with our athletes and learn how amazing they are and truly what it’s all about.”

When she’s not volunteering, Jolene said she is I am very active in her church and that the Food Pantry and Staff Committee keep her pretty busy as well. “I also go ‘glamping’ with my friends whenever I can,” said Jolene.

Thank you, Jolene, for all you’ve done over the years for Special Olympics Colorado. We are honored to recognize you as the April Volunteer of the Month!

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