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Special Olympics Colorado Athlete Makes History as First Athlete to Co-Chair a Program Board

Mackenzie, John and David Riley on a Zoom call.
Mackenzie and John being interviewed by David Riley about the announcement for the Special Olympics Colorado Morning Show.

Special Olympics Colorado is thrilled to announce Mackenzie Beauvais-Nikl and John Shukie as the new Unified (people with and without intellectual disabilities) chairs of Special Olympics Colorado's Board of Directors. With this appointment, Mackenzie becomes the first-ever Special Olympics athlete, globally, to serve as Board Chair of a Special Olympics Program.

What is a "Unified Pair"?
A combination of Special Olympics athlete (individual with an intellectual disability) and a person without an intellectual disability (Unified partner) working together to achieve a common goal.

In addition to being a long-time and multi-sport athlete, Mackenzie is an athlete leader, who is included as a state board member and Athlete Input Council Chair. Mackenzie was also named Special Olympics Colorado's 2020 Female Athlete of the Year and attended the Global Youth Leadership Summit in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

John is the proud parent of three daughters, including Special Olympics Colorado athlete, Nadia. He brings a wealth of knowledge in the sports industry through his work as the President of Forward Progress Athletic Consulting, a company which he co-founded.

"We are extremely fortunate to have Mackenzie and John at the helm,” said Megan Scremin, President and CEO of Special Olympics Colorado. “Their combined experience, passion and perspective will benefit our organization for years to come. They embody Special Olympics' Unified Leadership approach of creating an environment where leaders with and without intellectual disabilities authentically and meaningfully lead together."

Mackenzie Beauvais-Nikl holding a basketball.
Mackenzie Beauvais-Nikl

Mackenzie’s enthusiasm about the appoitment was apparent. "This opportunity allows me to lead, to use my voice and to show that people with disabilities can be whatever they want. This is a great opportunity and I'm still in shock that I'm the first athlete to be a Chair of a Special Olympics Board of Directors!"

She continued, “I'm hoping that other organizations and companies will see what we're doing and start giving people with intellectual disabilities opportunities to lead. I think it will be a really cool outcome to show how people with and without intellectual disabilities lead together."

John Shukie and family
John Shukie

"The athletes, coaches and staff of Special Olympics Colorado have dedicated themselves to promoting inclusion through Unified activities,” John shared. "What better way to show that the entire organization is dedicated to these principles than to have co-Board Chairs reflecting that same Unified spirit? I am tremendously excited to partner with an amazing Special Olympics Colorado athlete in Mackenzie as co-Chair. By working together, we are going to be stronger than we ever could have been working alone!"

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Located in Denver, Colorado lies a restaurant where customers pay for delicious slices of pizza but life lessons about awareness and inclusion come free of charge.