Special Olympics Colorado improves the lives of nearly 20,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities through sports training and competitions, social events, and health education and screenings, free of charge.
Hear from our athletes
Amelia first started competing with Special Olympics Colorado in 2019 with the Loveland Aquatics team. “Amelia was taking private swimming lessons at the same pool where the Loveland Aquatics team was practicing and she was SO excited to see people ‘like her’ swimming on a team,” said Ali Thompson, Amelia’s mother. Amelia was just learning to swim at the time and when they spoke to the team’s coach, Diane, who gave her a goal of swimming 25 meters to join the team. The following year, she met her goal and the rest is history!
In addition to swimming, Amelia also competes in Unified basketball. “She loves both sports, but swimming is her absolute favorite because of how wonderful her team and coaches are,” said Ali. “She has also been able to go to State Games for swimming and it’s one of the best parts of her year!”
Ali explained that Amelia is a “competition” athlete. “At practice, she loves being with her teammates and laughing and hanging out, but when it comes to a competition, especially State Games, she is uncharacteristically focused and performs better than even her coaches think she can,” exclaimed Ali. “She also loves to cheer and scream for her teammates. Even though she is ‘non-verbal,’ her teammates can hear her enthusiastic screams across the swimming venues! ”
Amelia loves Special Olympics Colorado because she enjoys being around people who accept her for who she is and her abilities. “She is a cheerleader at heart and she can be her whole loud, happy remarkable self without worrying about what people think of her,” said Ali. “She also loves being celebrated for her abilities and truly that is what Special Olympics does!”
Mason first got involved with Special Olympics Colorado 6 years ago. He was attending Prairie View High School at the time and began participating in the Unified program at Brighton High School with his brother, Colton. Currently, Mason competes in basketball, flag football, volleyball, soccer and eSports.
Mason said he loves getting to do the things he loves with Special Olympics Colorado. “My brother and I spend a lot of time together and it’s nice being around other people at practices, games and events,” he explained.
Mason recently got involved with eSports through Special Olympics and has already accomplished so much in the last couple of years. “My cousin and I slayed our division in Rocket League,” said Mason. “My cousin lives in Iowa, so it was really cool that we could do this together.”
Because Mason and his cousin won the Rocket League tournament, they received a trip to Los Angeles for the release of PGA 2K23 at Top Golf. There, they met WWE wrestlers Dolf Ziggler and Baron Corbin. “Also, we met some golf pros and a TikTok influencer that can hit a ball with 1 hand,” exclaimed Mason.
Mason told us that the possibilities eSports brings to the table when it comes to inclusion are huge. “Friends and family members can cheer for us just like they would at a game or on the field or court. Also, gaming doesn’t have the outside ‘noise’ to interfere with my performance and allows me to excel,” he said.
When he’s not competing in sports or eSports, Mason is part of the Youth Activation Committee (YAC)where he enjoys helping plan and set up for special events like the Youth Summit and Camp Shriver. He was a leader in Student Government when he was in high school, so he wanted to take that experience and bring it to YAC.
Overall, Mason said Special Olympics Colorado has made him feel very included. “It’s everyone together, doing something,” Mason said. “SOCO has helped me and I’m in a place to help others that may have been through what I’ve been through. I feel very blessed to be a part of SOCO!”
The mission of Special Olympics Colorado is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendships with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.
Throughout history, people with intellectual disabilities (ID) have suffered from the worst forms of abuse, discrimination, and have been denied basic human needs - connection, health and hope for a better life. In 1968, Eunice Kennedy Shriver took a stand against injustices faced by people with ID and fought for inclusion, through the creation of Special Olympics. In 1969, Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO) joined in her fight to advocate and create lifelong opportunities for youth and adults with ID by combating complacency, ignorance and stigma through unique programs.
Now, over 50 years later, SOCO still provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with ID, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendships with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Special Olympics Colorado
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Special Olympics Colorado 12450 E. Arapahoe Road, Ste. C Centennial, CO 80112