Making memories in Greeley |

Making memories in Greeley

State Special Olympics event provides fun for athletes, coaches, families

Nate Waggenspack
Special Olympians, unified partners, coaches and parents from Craig pose with some of their prizes at the Special Olympics Colorado Summer Games Saturday. The summer games are the largest event held by SOCO each year. Pictured here are (front row, from left) unified partner Isaiah Harmon, Jessica Johnson, William Johnson, Eric Quezada, track coach Rachel Frederickson, (second row, from left) parent Talia Johnson, Julianne Malley, Mariah Kowatch, Alison Douglas, Spencer Herod, Ryan Ages, (third row, from left) swim coach Jesse Harmon, unified partner Cheyenne Harmon, parent Cheryl Chase, Joshua Chase, Jeremy Gohr, track coach Matthew Fred and Sean Kilgore. Not pictured is the powerlifting team of Bill Mason, Jason Lathem, E.J. Camp, Donald Mcleslie and coaches Bill Chase and Earl Camp.
Rick Charbonneau/Courtesy

A group of 18 athletes and unified partners from Craig competed at the Special Olympics Summer Games Saturday on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

Over one thousand athletes came and participated in track and field, soccer, gymnastics, swimming and powerlifting events.

The Craig athletes, who ranged in age from eight to 50, came home with loads of medals and ribbons, according to Cheryl Chase, who has been involved with Special Olympics in Craig for 18 years.

“The games were wonderful,” Chase said. “Everybody brought home lots of medals, and we had a bunch of golds and silvers as well.”

The team from Craig left Friday and enjoyed a weekend with a wide variety of activities at the largest competition hosted by Special Olympics Colorado each year. Aside from the athletic events, SOCO hosted a dinner and a dance while also offering athletes a chance to meet their favorite superhero (Batman, Superman and the Green Lantern were there, among others), pot a plant or get shoes recommended by Panorama Orthopedic. The day finished with fireworks.

Jenny Chase, Director of Sports and Training for SOCO, said the number of participants and unified partners at the summer games was up slightly from last year, as was the 300 volunteers that showed up to help make the event a success.

Cheryl Chase and her husband, Bill, have been going to Special Olympics events since their son, Joshua, turned eight. Chase said the summer games have kept improving over the years in terms of including the athletes in more of the ceremonies

“They had athletes doing the torch run with officers, and then they had others recite the Special Olympics athlete’s oath at the beginning of the games,” she said. “They are really expanding what athletes are able to do at the games.”

Chase is no longer a coach, but still attends the events because she enjoys them so much. One of Craig’s powerlifting coaches, Earl Camp, agreed.

“The games are a getaway for all of [the athletes],” he said. “This was the most participants we’ve had in powerlifting since I’ve been a coach, and it went real well.”

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