$5,000 Vote Nominee – Special Olympics Colorado Uses Athletics to Empower Disabled Coloradans for Success in Life

Citywide Connect Citywide BanksCitywide Banks’ next Charity Fan Vote for its $5,000 Hand-Up Charity Donation will take place on Facebook from June 1-14, 2012. Special Olympics Colorado is one of five nominated charities that will be spotlighted leading up to this quarter’s Fan Vote. The general public is invited to participate in the vote. Voters can enter to win prizes in addition to helping raise awareness for their favorite Front Range charity.

Special Olympics ColoradoSpecial Olympics Colorado (SOCO) started in 1969 with a track meet for 400 athletes with intellectual disabilities. It has grown to serve over 11,000 athletes statewide. There’s a perception that its primary function is to provide opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to compete in their own organized sports. Certainly, that’s the foundation of the organization’s mission. However, the vision and experience has grown to be more inclusive for everyone in our communities.

The organization now offers more than 100 events between sports competitions, training and education every year. The familiarity begins with Winter Games at Copper Mountain and Summer Games at UNC Greeley, but the movement’s fastest growing area of engagement is in our local schools.

“Special Olympics Colorado is changing attitudes, fostering community building, providing healthcare, and helping create a more inclusive and accepting world for all of us,” says Mindy Watrous, Special Olympics President and CEO.

Its partnerships with more than 50 Colorado high schools, middle schools and elementary schools is opening up opportunities for everyone within the school and its extended community to participate in Special Olympics – as a partner athlete, mentor, supporter and friend.

“I regularly hear from high school kids and teachers – ‘I’m not sure who is getting more out of this experience, me or the athletes with intellectual disabilities,’” says Watrous. “We know the culture is changing within schools to be inclusive and accepting of all differences – reducing bullying and increasing kindness to all.”

Athletes join an 8-10 week training program and participate in local events before qualifying for area and statewide competitions. SOCO offers 22 sports and athletes are never charged to participate.

“Our athletes are true competitors. It’s not just for fun,” Watrous says. “It increases their self-esteem, their health and their connectedness to our community.”

A $5,000 donation from Citywide Banks would help host a ski event for 300 athletes, go toward purchasing equipment and uniforms, or support the launch the newest sport for its athletes, Flag Football.

Finally, Watrous references the importance of volunteers. “We are always looking for new coaches and other volunteers,” she explains. “You just need to have the desire and passion to work with people with disabilities and we will provide the training.”

SOCO offers programs starting at 2 ½ years old and there are no upper age limits. More than 11,000 athletes compete in Colorado, and the organization greatly appreciates its 6,600 volunteers who help make everything come together – local and statewide competitions, fundraising events, health education, sports training, and global messenger training. 

For more information about Special Olympics Colorado’s programs and ways to donate your time or money, please visit www.SpecialOlympicsCO.org.

Vote for Special Olympics Colorado to Receive $5,000 Donation
Each quarter, Citywide Banks spotlights five Front Range charities to raise awareness about their great work, needs, and corporate giving opportunities. The charities are nominated by Citywide employees. During a 14-day vote Citywide Banks Facebook Voteon the bank’s Facebook Fan Page, customers and the local community are invited to select the most deserving charity to receive a $5,000 cash donation from Citywide Banks. $500 and $250 runner-up donations will be awarded to the charities receiving the second and third most votes, respectively. The bank’s quarterly Fan Vote on Facebook is a fun way to get the community engaged in the campaign. Regardless of who wins the vote, all the nominated charities get some valuable exposure.

Voters in Facebook Vote Eligible to Win Prizes
The public is invited to participate in the Charity Fan Vote at Facebook.com/citywidebanks from June 1-14, 2012. Voters will have the option to be entered into a drawing to win one of several prizes, including Starbucks cards and a $100 dinner for two at Littleton’s Opus Restaurant, one of the area’s top picks by 5280 Magazine.

How to Vote for a Nominated Charity
Visit Citywide’s Facebook Page at Facebook.com/citywidebanks anytime and become a Fan by clicking the “Like” button. Then, from June 1-14, 2012, Fans will be eligible to cast their vote and be entered into the voter prize drawing. Look for the “Charity Fan Vote” link on the bank’s Facebook page. To access Citywide’s Facebook Page, you will need to make sure you are logged into your own Facebook account. If you don’t have one, it only takes minutes to set up a new account and it’s free. Please note that voting is not available through the Facebook mobile phone app.

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