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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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”.
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.
Aaron is a 16 year old addition to the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. Aaron has been involved in several sports over the years and is excited to get another opportunity to make new friends and have a good time playing a new sport with his teammates.
In high school Aaron got a taste of just about every venue there was to offer. He participated in track and field, basketball, baseball, soccer, horseback riding, skiing and other activities sanctioned through his school. Aaron is always open to try something new and the Rapids All Star Team will now be another activity he can add to his long list.
Within Jefferson High School and Jefferson County Aaron has been able to be a part of several organizations, clubs, and activities within the area. One of the organizations that Aaron was a part of was Sports Made Possible. He flourished here and has been trying out other organizations and activities to meet other people and have a good time with his friends.
Ibsen is a 17 year old forward for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. His high energy and free loving spirit fits well with his position as forward. He loves scoring goals and brings a positive and enthusiastic attitude to every game and practice.
Ibsen has been involved with soccer ever since he was young. His entire family has played or is still playing soccer. It could be said that they are soccer fanatics. Each Sunday Ibsen and his family play soccer together and his dad is also on a soccer league. He has learned to love the game and it has become a way of life for him and his family. He has been participating in sports with Special Olympics Colorado since he was 7. Mostly Ibsen plays soccer, but he is involved in basketball as well.
Going to Seattle is something that Ibsen is really looking forward to. His father says that “he can’t stop talking about it. He tells everyone.” The player from the Rapids that Ibsen likes the most is Conor Casey. Conor reminds him of his favorite Mexican soccer player “El Bofo” Bautista. “They are both bald”, he says. “They look a lot alike”. He is excited to meet the team in Seattle and he can’t wait to play more soccer.
Mackenzie Beauvais-Nikl is a 17 year old goalie for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. Though she often plays goalie, she is also experienced in all other positions. Just last spring Mackenzie scored over 10 goals while also stopping every goal but one as goal keeper. To give a glimpse of her versatility, Mackenzie is involved in 6 other Special Olympic Colorado Sports including: tennis, track, basketball, softball, snowboarding and cycling.
Mackenzie began playing sports in high school. She was on the high school volleyball and basketball team; however she found her true inspiration when she attended a Special Olympics Colorado demonstration in one of her local Denver public schools. She enjoys the social atmosphere of Special Olympics and has culminated many friendships through the several sports she participates in.
Mackenzie’s favorite Rapids players are Omar Cummings, Conor Casey, and Matt Pickens. Mackenzie has already been able to meet Conor and Matt during the Special Olympics Rapids drills practice and the “Shop with a Jock” event held at Dick’s Sporting Goods. She is excited to meet the rest of the team in Seattle and is also “excited to beat the other team”. She began playing soccer because of her older brother and now she is on her way to her own Championship Cup Series in Seattle Washington.