January 2018 Monthly Winners

Kyle Emery
Male Athlete of the Month
Northeast Region

Kyle EmeryKyle Emery is a Special Olympics Colorado athlete from Fort Collins in our Northeast Region. He has been competing for 13 years in a myriad of sports and always seems to stand out by not only his performance, but preparation for his athletic events. Kyle competes in basketball, track and field, softball, flag football, and is the definition of a team player. He is extremely honored to have been selected to the 2018 Team Colorado Presented by CenturyLink USA Games roster in Track and Field where he can showcase his abilities in Seattle in July. “Kyle brings a humbleness and passion to our track team we will be taking to national games in July. I am honored and excited to be able to help guide him and watch him compete in the sport he loves in front of peers nationwide,” said Jeff Franklyn, Special Olympics Colorado Northeast Regional Manager. Congratulations to Kyle on being named the Special Olympics Colorado Male Athlete of the Month!




Shelby Taylor
Female Athlete of the Month
Southeast Region

Shelby Taylor

Shelby has been participating in Special Olympics Colorado since 2010 in soccer, bowling, softball, aquatics, and basketball. Her coach Shannon Black says, “Shelby is one of the most kindhearted athletes I have ever met. She’s kind to her teammates, the other team, the referees, and every single person in the crowd. Her level of sportsmanship and thoughtfulness of others is above and beyond. Additionally, Shelby plays with a wonderful enthusiasm. She works hard at every practice and game and never gives up or complains.” Congratulations to Shelby on being named the Special Olympics Colorado Female Athlete of the Month!







The McKnight Family
Family of the Month

family photoThe McKnight family has been a huge part of Special Olympics Colorado since 1996 when Arapaphoe County Deputy Sheriff  Brian McKnight ran his first Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR). Cindy McKnight, Brian’s wife, has helped with scheduling Torch Run trips and attends almost every one of them. She also helps organize, schedule, and review the material for events like the LETR Kickoff Conference. Their son Michael, who is also a Deputy Sheriff at the Araphahoe County Sheriff’s Office, has been participating in Polar Plunges and running in the Torch Run since he was a child. Now he runs in the Torch Run with his Agency every year. Jessica, their daughter-in-law, is also involved with SOCO. She has been around Special Olympics her entire life as she has two brothers with Down Syndrome and has a major in Psychology with a focus on intellectual disabilities. Jessica has held major Torch Run fundraising events and volunteers at SOCO’s State Summer Games. Michael and Jessica even got engaged at Summer Games on the middle of the dance floor. Nikki McKnight and Jessie Reisman who are Brian and Cindy’s daughter and niece are also very involved with SOCO. They volunteer with Torch Runs, Summer Games, Tip-a-Cop’s, and more. Brian says, “We have learned that we can always do more and we are lucky to be involved with incredible people.” Congratulations to the McKnight family on being named the Special Olympics Colorado Family of the Month.

Brian Johnson

Volunteer of the Month

brian photo2Brian has his own photography company called Brian Johnson Photo, and has used his talents to capture memorable moments throughout the year at Special Olympics Colorado events.

He has photographed over 30 fundraising events and competitions combined throughout the state to promote SOCO and the extraordinary accomplishments of our athletes. Brian also helped paint the cleat designs created by Grandview High School for Eddie Yarbrough’s participation in the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats Campaign, promoting SOCO. Whenever he is thanked for his countless hours of volunteering, he has simply stated that it’s the least he can do for our athletes.

Brian is also the Vice President of Family Garage Door, and has facilitated their sponsorship supporting our Bocce and Brews, Plane Pull, and Hall of Fame fundraising events, helping bring in $15,000 for Special Olympics Colorado. Brian even plunged into freezing cold water at our Aurora Polar Plunge presented by Westerra Credit Union to help raise money for our athletes! Thank you, Brian, for your clear and abundant passion for supporting SOCO in every way possible and congratulations on being named the Special Olympics Colorado Volunteer of the Month!

Tim Balfe

Coach of the Month
Denver Region

Tim has been coaching with Special Olympics Colorado for two years and has been able make a phenomenal impact. Tim started as an alpine ski volunteer helping the alpine volunteer ski team train Special Olympics Colorado athletes at Copper Mountain. From there, he helped start a brand new tennis team in the Summer where he served as the head coach. In 2018, Tim has stepped into a coaching role with the Adams12 Ski Team and has been instrumental in providing equipment to athletes in need. Tim’s dedication to SOCO’s athletes and willingness to get the job done makes him a great candidate for the Special Olympics Colorado Coach of the Month.

The Colorado Health Foundation

Community Partner of the Month

colorado-health-foundationThe Colorado Health Foundation (CHF) supports healthy living for all Coloradans, while focusing on creating schools that foster health, wellness and a thriving environment for kids statewide. It is through this vision that CHF began supporting Special Olympics Colorado in 2016 with a large grant that kick-started, not only our new Health and Wellness Department, but the wildly successful and globally recognized health and wellness education curriculum called Healthy LEAP. This 8-week education program focuses on hygiene, nutrition, hydration, sun safety, and more!  SOCO is pleased to announce that more than 900 students, both with and without intellectual disabilities, have signed-up to participate in the program’s inaugural year. Without the support from CHF, SOCO would not have been able to reach so many students through health programming or have nearly 40% of participants experience a reduction of body mass index, which a key indicator of health. SOCO cannot thank The Colorado Health Foundation enough for their tremendous support in improving student and athlete health throughout Colorado!