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February 2017 Recognition Winners

Jonathan Ek-Ortiz
Male Athlete of the Month
Young Athletes Program

jonathan

Johnathan Ortiz is an inspiring young athlete who has made the most of his experience with Special Olympics Colorado. He loves basketball because it’s a game he can play with a team but also something he can do by himself. Additionally, he loves playing sports because they encourage him to work hard and do his best. However, it’s not just about the sports for Johnathan. Being a part of Special Olympics Colorado has given him numerous opportunities to get involved, make friends, and be a part of something special. As his mother put it, “Johnathan is a people person. He’s fun to be around, loving, thoughtful and always likes to see the good in the world. But most of all, he is included. SOCO has given him the ability to be free and independent, make friends, and it gives him the biggest smile you’ve ever seen!”

Johnathan’s positive outlook is extremely admirable, especially for a young kid living in a world so consumed with negativity. Congratulations Johnathan, your optimism and endurance make you extremely deserving of this esteemed award.

Audrey Meshefski
Female Athlete of the Month
Denver Region

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Special Olympics Colorado has been a life-changing experience for Audrey Meshefski and her family. Over the past 10 years, Audrey has been competing with SOCO in bowling, track, and her all-time favorite sport, basketball! At 4’7” she is one of the most competitive and tenacious athletes on the court. In addition to competing, Audrey has gotten so much out of the program! When she was 8 years old, Audrey was barely talking. Now, nearly 10 years later she has completely changed cognitively, physically, and emotionally. She has gained the confidence to compete at a high level, perform in numerous school plays and become an ambassador for the organization at events like Mardi Gras and Tip-A-Cop. She has also been granted so many new opportunities, from pulling a plane to meeting her all-time favorite athlete, Kenneth Faried!

Audrey has grown into a smart, funny, sassy and extremely empathetic young lady. In fact, at the 2014 Summer Games, at the start of her first track & field race, Audrey took off faster than any of her competitors. It was clear, she was going to win! However, as she started to approach the finish line, Audrey slowed down and turned back. Her friend Sasha had fallen behind, and Audrey didn’t want to finish without her. She waited for Sasha, took her hand, and the two crossed the finish line together. Their friendship was far more important to Audrey than any gold medal. This amazing young lady has achieved so much throughout her time with SOCO. She has become a competitor, understands the importance of friendship, and is doing all the things that no one ever thought she could. Congratulations Audrey!

Officer Steve Shulz
Volunteer of the Month
Officer Steve Schulz
Law Enforcement Torch Run

Officer Steve Shulz from the Longmont Police Department has been volunteering with Special Olympics Colorado for the past 5 years! He is dedicated to his fundraising efforts for SOCO and hosts a golf outing every year in which all proceeds go to Special Olympics Colorado. He speaks to the powerful moment at the end of the golf event in which athletes share their stories with the attendants and states, there is “never a dry eye in the house.” Officer Shulz shares he has always been interested in the organization and supported its mission. He enjoys interacting with Special Olympics athletes and their families as those connections provide him a great sense of satisfaction. Through his volunteerism, Officer Shulz sees how an athlete’s involvement with Special Olympics Colorado is truly life-changing, and he is proud to be a part of the Special Olympics movement. Thank you Officer Shulz for all you do!

Claire Moore-Murrill
Coach of the Month
Western Region

Claire Moore-Murrill has been volunteering for SOCO for at least 25 years.  She is a head coach for the adult aquatic team in Delta County.  Her coaching techniques and skills allow athletes to constantly improve thus compete in longer races and more difficult events.  Claire is also an assistant Alpine coach for Team Powderhorn. She has taken on the task of “paperwork” which definitely takes a load off of the head coach.  She is also at the ready to assist the Delta County basketball teams and has been a member of the Western Regional Aquatics Meet’s Games Organizing Committee-helping with the dinner/dance, the competition and the luncheon and awards ceremony.  Claire is a parent of an athlete who loves sports.  He was raised with very active parents who love to raft, camp and ski.  Claire is a very organized, positive volunteer who puts the athletes first and is always ready to step up to a challenge.  Thank you Claire for your positive commitment to our athletes!

Mallard Family
Family of the Month
Northeast Region

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Richard and Shelia Mallard have been involved with SOCO since the mid90s. Richard originally started out as a day of event volunteer and then moved into a volunteer coach position, coaching his daughter, Stephanie, in several sports. Over the years Sheila has helped with several tournaments and just last year signed up to be an assistant coach! Together the Mallard Family has participated in track and field, aquatics, bocce, bowling, basketball, gymnastics and softball! Richard and Sheila share how their involvement with SOCO has helped them to understand the different types of disabilities persons have and empowered them to share their understanding with others in their circle. Being involved with SOCO has helped the Mallard Family grow a better community for their family and they believe SOCO has helped others appreciate all our athletes have to offer to the community. Richard and Stephanie strongly urge any family considering getting involved with Special Olympics Colorado to DO IT! Their favorite part about SOCO is both the joy and sorrow their daughter and her teammates experience as they participate in events, and describe the organization’s impact as truly humbling. Stephanie Mallard has thrived by being a Special Olympics athlete and together the Mallard Family has learned a lot about Special Olympics.

Knights of Columbus Council #12020
Community Partner of the Month
Southeast Region

Special Olympics Colorado is happy to recognize the Knights of Columbus Council #12020 from the Southeast Region as our February Community Partner of the month! The Pueblo West Knights of Columbus Council have supported the Southeast Region for many years by contributing financially, volunteering and performing the “Presentation of Colors” at many competitions. Most recently, they contributed $2,000 for the Southeast Regional Bowling Tournament, supporting over 373 athletes, partners, and coaches. This is the highest number of athletes who have ever competed in a SE regional bowling tournament and it is the 3rd year that Knights have contributed to the bowling tournament! Additionally, the Knights have supported the SE Regional Basketball Tournament for the past two years and have donated more than $10,000 toward the SE Regional Track and Field Events over the past five years. Thank you for all you have done to support Special Olympics Colorado!

Heritage High School
School of the Month
Denver Region

Heritage High School is deserving of the School of the Month Award as they are a model program within Littleton Public Schools. Heritage High School is very involved with Unified Basketball, within the Chatfield league. They played in the Unified Basketball Tournament at the Pepsi Center on December 15th.  Their head liaison Mindy Wilson has been imperative to the success of their program at their school and always gets her teams paperwork completed in a timely and thorough manner. They have so much interest in their Unified Team at their school that they often times have to rotate which partners can participate. Heritage High School fulfills the last two components of Unified School Strategy by hosting a successful, school wide R-Word campaign.