Blog

Special Olympics

06 July 11:29 pm

It's neat how the Olympians recognize the Rapids players, and vice versa. Rapids All-time leading scorer Conor Casey and five-time MLS Cup champion Brian Mullan conducted a clinic for these athletes back in Colorado a few weeks ago, so they're still fresh in each other's memories. The Olympians all remember Conor and Brian giving them their Rapids gear!

Tony Cascio and Matt Pickens took the Olympians on a shopping spree at Dick's Sporting Goods in Belmar one night to buy whatever else they needed for the trip.

And if there was any doubt that these athletes are also big fans of the Rapids, Conor Coleman (pictured above with Casey; FULL BIO) made it clear when he provided the quote of the night - possibly the year - when he told Casey to: "Beat the Sounders to a pulp!"

Wayne Brant is the Colorado Rapids Marketing Manager, who is traveling with the Special Olympics Colorado athletes on the trip to Seattle.

06 July 11:09 pm

(Above: Luis Zapata (left) and Wells Thompson (center) shake hands and accept the Special t-shirts upon arrival in Seattle)

Not long after we arrived in Seattle, we headed out for a team meal at Cheesecake Factory. It took some of the athletes a little time to relax and feel comfortable, after all, this is one of the first times many of them have been away from the comforts of family and home. But as we've all experience, sports has a way of making us comfortable when we can share our passion with others that feel the same way.

After dinner, we brought the Olympians to the Rapids team hotel to greet the team as they arrived. (The Rapids team trained in Colorado this morning and came to Seattle on a later flight than we did).

And this is when the Olympian really began to feel at ease. As the Rapids players got off the bus and walked into the hotel, the Olympians greeted them with "Let's go Rapids" chants and presented each player with Special Olympics Colorado grey and orange t-shirt. The back had a string of positive one word messages, such as "RESPECT, STRENGTH, PASSION, DETERMINATION, FRIENDSHIP, etc."

They then gave head coach Oscar Pareja a Colorado Rapids flag that all the Olympians signed as a gesture of good luck from another member of our One Club. Omar Cummings was then requested to join them in a team photo (below). 

On a more humorous note, we told the Olympians that it was Rapids traveling PR rep Rachel Sweeney's birthday. So when they saw, they united to sing her Happy Birthday.

Wayne Brant is the Colorado Rapids Marketing Manager, who is traveling with the Special Olympics Colorado athletes on the trip to Seattle.

06 July 4:05 pm

The first big weekend is finally here! The Special Olympics Colorado athletes arrived in Seattle, Washington on Friday afternoon ahead of the first of a two-game series against the athletes from Special Olympics Washington.

The group, decked out in the custom apparel the Rapids' first team travels with - complete with Colorado Rapids polos and jackets and adidas travel bags - arrived in Seattle shortly before 2 pm local time. Staying in downtown, they'll have dinner this evening at Cheesecake Factory before settling in.

Training on Saturday will take place at Seattle University from 11-12:30 pm. The group will then attend the Rapids vs Seattle Sounders match at CenturyLInk Field in the evening.

The Olympians will square off Sunday at the Starfire Complex at 12 pm PT.

14 June 12:30 pm

Special Olympics Colorado has made all the difference in Conor's life.  When he joined Special Olympics Colorado basketball in 2002, he had a group of friends for the first time in his life.  By rotating through the various sports offered by Special Olympics (over several years) he found his 'place' on the tennis court.  He was fortunate to represent Colorado at the Special Olympic National Games in Tennis, 2010.  

The present opportunity with the Rapids and Kroenke Sports to play soccer and travel has meant so much to Conor and to us as a family.  It has been a positive and affirming experience in every way.  He feels respected and important by these organizations. 

All of this would not be possible without Special Olympics Colorado.  Thank you for giving these kids the chance to shine.

14 June 12:25 pm

Special Olympics Colorado has given Mackenzie so many opportunities to express herself and grow as a person.  We have always tried to promote Mackenzie’s independence so that she is as ready as she can be when she graduates from high school.  The rapids experience fit very nicely into that plan and actually speeded things up.  The Seattle trip gave her confidence in her abilities and allowed her to take on the opportunities she has for leadership.  Mackenzie wants to go on a school trip to Italy next year and this trip to Seattle has given us confidence that she will be ready.  Not only do we have confidence, but most importantly she believes she can do it.  Mackenzie is ready to prove herself and take the opportunities that are in front of her.  The Colorado Rapids players have given her a sense of family and belonging.  These team members have given her the strength to stand up for herself and feel important.  These experiences are priceless and I hope more people begin to realize the importance of unity and the impact it can have on society and the way we live each day.

14 June 12:20 pm

Shi is a 15 year old new player for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team.  Shi has never played on a competitive soccer team and he is very excited to start.  He is hoping to be able to try all of the positions and hopes he can score some goals for his new team. He is open to new opportunities and enjoys meeting new people.  In school Shi has played football and basketball as well as participated in school wide soccer activities.  

Shi heard about Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Team from one of his teachers in school.  As soon as he talked to his mom, he knew he wanted to be a part of it.  Shi is most excited about meeting his new teammates.  He doesn’t currently know any of his teammates but he knows he will make a lot of friends this summer.  He is also looking forward to meeting all of the Special Olympics Sounders players when they come to play in Denver.

14 June 12:15 pm

Sarah is a coach for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team.  She is from Denver, Colorado and attended the Art Institute of Colorado.  Sarah enjoys photography and owns a photography and floral company.  Her favorite athlete currently is Abby Wambach.  Sarah says she “loves her intensity”. 

Sarah looks forward to becoming part of the Rapids All Star Soccer family and says that “this is a great opportunity because I can take my love of soccer to these kids and see the happiness on their faces.  The best part is the smiles from it all”.

14 June 12:10 pm

Mollie is a 30 year old coach for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team.  She is from Green Mountain Falls, Colorado and attended Colorado State University as well as the University of Colorado at Denver.  Mollie’s favorite sport is volleyball and she enjoys hiking, reading and exploring the beautiful sights of Colorado.

Mollie says that to her the Rapids All Star Team is “a way for students with special needs to be a part of something great and amazing for the community they are in as well as a way for them to be healthy”.  Mollie is very excited to be a part of this great team and can’t wait to get started.

14 June 12:05 pm

Gabe is a 17 year old player for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team.  Gabe began playing soccer when he was ten years old.  Though he says he “got a late start”, he caught on quickly.  He took after his older brother and has now fallen in love with the sport.  Gabe played soccer all four years in high school and also played on a club team this past spring.  His favorite positions are center mid-fielder and forward.  At Thomas Jefferson High School Gabe also played football and track. His favorite major league soccer players are Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey. Donovan and Dempsey were two great soccer players for the USA team.

Gabe has been involved with Special Olympics Colorado for a few years now.  He assisted young athletes in a soccer training camp at Dick’s Sporting Goods two years ago.  He heard about the Rapids All Star team from his former high school soccer coach and thought it would be a great opportunity.  Gabe wants to take his passion for soccer and helping others to his new Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Team.  Gabe says he enjoys “helping other people.  When I can make someone else happy, that makes me happy”.  

14 June 12:00 pm

Belen is a 20 year old new player for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team.  Belen’s two major soccer positions are forward and defense.  She has been playing soccer since she was 9 years old; she began playing soccer because of her older brother.  Belen soon found that soccer was her passion.  At Thomas Jefferson High School she played soccer all four years for the varsity team.  She also played club soccer in the summer and now Belen plays soccer for fun through Denver Parks and Recreation. 

Belen heard about the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids team through her high school soccer coach.  She thought it sounded like a lot of fun and a great cause.  She is excited to become a part of the team and meet all of the players.  Belen already has one friend on the team, Gabe DaSilva.  Gabe is also a new member; they played soccer together at Thomas Jefferson High School.  She can’t wait to play soccer with Gabe again and have a great time playing with and meeting her new teammates.