August 2022 Change Makers
Athlete of the Month
Connor Kelly initially got involved with Special Olympics Colorado in Greeley. “After I found out I had Sotos syndrome, I wanted to play sports,” said Connor, who then reached out to Andy Gonzales, the Northeast Regional Manager at the time, who got him started with basketball. Now, Connor competes in basketball, athletics, softball, basketball and flag football. His favorite is flag football, but he said he’s won the most championships in basketball.
Aside from sports, Connor was also involved with the Youth Activation Committee when it first formed. He also brought the R-Word Campaign (now known as the Spread the Word: Inclusion Campaign) to the Poudre School District through his Eagle Scout project in 2012.
Connor’s favorite part about competing with Special Olympics Colorado is that it gives him the opportunity to compete in sports he loves. He also enjoys being able to make new friends while competing. “Special Olympics has opened up a new community that I didn’t have before,” said Connor. “Being involved is just awesome because it allows people with and without intellectual disabilities to compete in sports and build a connection that people may not have had the opportunity to before.”
Outside of Special Olympics, Connor works at Scheels and was recently awarded Cashier of the Year, which he was voted on by managers at his store. He said he was selected because he represented Scheels values of taking care of customers and being a good employee. In June, Connor had the opportunity to go to Wisconsin Dells, WI, where he was recognized at a Scheels ceremony. “It was an overall great experience, a 5-star experience,” Connor said about his achievement. “At Scheels, we pride ourselves on giving the 5-star experience, which is why I was voted on by managers and presented with that honor.”
Great job on all your accomplishments, Connor, and congratulations on being recognized as our August Athlete of the Month!
Volunteer of the Month
Kristen began volunteering with Special Olympics when she was young with her cousin, Greg. About 5 years ago, she began volunteering for Special Olympics Colorado when her son, Kyle, became an employee.
Kristen said her favorite part about volunteering is getting the opportunity to witness the amazing athletes working hard and competing at their highest. She said every time she volunteers, she has a new favorite memory, so many that she can’t choose just one.
Fun fact – Kristen lives in California, so for large events, she travels to Colorado to volunteer. She volunteers for Polar Plunges, Plane Pulls and many State Competitions. “My main motivation for coming to Colorado is to selfishly see my oldest child,” explained Kristen. “On top of that, I get the privilege to spend time with amazing athletes and Special Olympics Colorado staff who have all accepted my and taken me in as a friend.”
Kristen recommends that everyone should get involved with Special Olympics Colorado. “it’ll change your life and how you look at the world and people around you,” she said. “You will walk away blessed and fulfilled every time you participate in a SOCO event.”
Thank you, Kristen, for all you do for Special Olympics Colorado! Congratulations on being recognized as our August Volunteer of the Month!