June 2024 Change Makers

June 2024 Change Makers

Chris McElroy

Athlete of the Month

Chris began competing with Special Olympics Colorado in middle school when he brought home a flyer from his teacher. His family called the number on the flyer and talked to Cathy Whoel, the Aurora Community program coordinator at the time. Chris originally tried to play for the middle school basketball team before there were Unified teams and was told by the coach he couldn’t keep up and couldn’t play with the team. After talking to Cathy about everything Chris could do, they signed up for swimming. Throughout the years, Chris also competed in soccer, floor hockey, flag football, bowling and golf.

Chris’ favorite part about Special Olympics Colorado is getting to see his friends and coaches. You can always see him laughing and smiling with those around him at competitions and never misses the chance to say hi to someone.

In 2015, Chris had the opportunity to compete in swimming at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. He came home with a gold medal in the 100 meter freestyle and received a 4th place ribbon and participant medals with the Special Olympics USA Relay Team.

When Chris isn’t competing, he enjoys spending time with his family and his niece Brianna. He also loves helping people and never says no when they ask him for help.

Chris is also a Service Ambassador at United Airlines, where he has been working for 3 years. Check out Chris in the Unified Leadership and United Airlines Case Study video from Special Olympics International!

Congratulations on being recognized as the June Athlete of the Month, Chris!!


Greg Stults

Coach of the Month

Greg has been a Special Olympics Colorado coach for 17 years. He says it was a stroke of luck that he became a coach. “My oldest son was playing tennis in 2007 as a freshman at JK Mullen High School. I heard there was a Special Olympics tennis program at Mullen in the summer,” explained Greg. “I encouraged him to volunteer, which he did. I was volunteering as an assistant coach with the Mullen boys team, and began volunteering with the SOCO tennis program too.”

In addition to coaching tennis, Greg also volunteers with skating as well. “Another stroke of luck,” Greg exclaimed. He mentioned he happened to be at the University of Denver ice facility one Saturday morning and ran into a couple of athletes from the Mullen Special Olympics tennis team who were ice skating. “I introduced myself to the head coach, Karen Schleu, and next thing I knew, I was volunteering with SO Ice Skating.”

Greg’s favorite part about coaching is simple: “I get to be on the ice and tennis court with Special Olympic athletes. That’s an unbeatable combination,” he said. Additionally, he has enjoyed seeing the perseverance, joy and camaraderie the athletes have in developing their skills and competing. He has also enjoyed watching both of his sons embrace Special Olympics and volunteering so willingly. “Also, playing as a Unified partner in tennis is a true pleasure,” Greg said.

Throughout his time with Special Olympics Colorado, Greg said he has been fortunate to have had great mentors along the way in his Special Olympics experience. “Both Vicky Matarazzo in tennis and Karen Schleu in ice skating taught me so much about dedication and selflessness and the rewards that come from volunteering. The SOCO staff is tireless and terrific,” said Greg. “And, I’ve said this before: I believe Special Olympics was the most inspired non-profit idea of the 20th century and is only getting stronger in the 21st.”

Thank you, Greg, for all you do and congratulations on being recognized as the June Coach of the Month!

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