April 2024 Change Makers

April 2024 Change Makers

Michael Bush

Athlete of the Month

Michael first got involved with Special Olympics Colorado when he was a senior at Grandview High School, when his then teacher, Cory Chandler encouraged him to participate. “I had no idea about any of the sports or how many doors it could open,” said Michael, who then competed in Unified track and Unified basketball. Since then, he has also competed in flag football, track and field, soccer and most recently, softball with Special Olympics Colorado.

Michael said favorite part about Special Olympics Colorado is not just the people he gets to meet or the Special Olympics Colorado staff, but the fact that athletes come out and want to be part of something bigger than themselves. “It creates a way for younger athletes to make more friends and widen their social circle, which is really cool,” he explained.

In addition to competing, Michael is becoming an athlete leader by attending Athlete Leadership University. He is majoring in Communication and is currently working on his capstone project. Additionally, Michael is the Unified Champion Schools (UCS) Athlete Fellow at Special Olympics Colorado, where he gets to visit different schools in different districts along with the UCS team to support events at the schools.

Michael’s favorite memory was having the opportunity to speak at the 2023 Hall of Fame luncheon. He and Mackenzie Beauvais-Nikl were the keynote speakers and shared their experiences as Special Olympics Colorado athletes. “It gave me a chance to open up and share my story and tell people what it’s like having a situation not similar to other athletes or student athletes,” said Michael. “And really just getting to be that people that people walk up to me and say I inspired them to be involved with Special Olympics.”

Congratulations on being recognized as the April Athlete of the Month, Michael!


Rachel and Dennis Griffin

Volunteers of the Month

Rachel began volunteering for Special Olympics Colorado as a Unified partner for the Cherry Creek Alpine Team when she was 15 years old. Her dad, Dennis, often drove her to and from practices, and soon began helping out with the Alpine Support Crew. “When Rachel became a unified partner, my love for winter sports made it easy to join the volunteer group for the Alpine program,” Dennis explained. Working with the athletes and experiencing their enthusiasm was so rewarding that we both are grateful for the opportunity to be part of the program. As it is often said: ‘It is in giving that you receive.'”

While volunteering, they both love seeing how much joy skiing and snowboarding can bring to athletes. “We have been fortunate to get to know many of the athletes that train each year and see them grow as people and athletes,” said Rachel. Dennis also mentioned that the alpine program not only provides a platform for personal development, but also team building for the athletes and volunteers.

Over the years, Rachel and Dennis have created many amazing memories. Rachel said she loves hearing stories from athletes and parents about what they were “told by doctors” what their child would never be able to do and how they are always proving those doctors wrong.

“Volunteering for Special Olympics is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have,” said Rachel when asked what she would tell others to encourage them to get involved. “Watching the athletes push themselves every week to be the best they can be shows you true determination and strength. It’s impossible to only volunteer once!”

When she’s not volunteering for Special Olympics Colorado, Rachel is a pediatric occupational therapist for St Vincent Health in Leadville. She also enjoys running, skiing, backpacking and rowing.

Dennis is now retired, which allows him to spend more time with the Alpine Program. “I enjoy being able to spend more time on the snow,” said Dennis, who also enjoys hiking and cycling in the off season.

We are so grateful for all that Rachel and Dennis have done for Special Olympics Colorado over the years and we are thrilled to recognize them as the April Volunteers of the Month!

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