81. Open Mic: The Special Olympics

“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.””

~Mahatma Gandhi

I could not be more excited to have this conversation about The Special Olympics- there is SO much to the organization that we don’t know and it’s unbelievably positive! They are truly an incredible, thriving example of diversity and inclusion. Today I welcome Megan Scremin, President & CEO of Special Olympics Colorado, and Mackenzie Beauvais- Nikl, Special Olympics Colorado’s Female Athlete of the Year for 2020. Megan and Mackenzie breakdown the ALL of the opportunity with the organization of The Colorado Special Olympics. They share their personal experiences from the business/management perspective and from the leader/athlete perspective. I had no idea you could be a lifelong athlete with the Special Olympics and the incredible community the organization creates not only for the athletes, but for their families alike. The Special Olympics organization work to be as full service as possible- offering events, health screenings, other lifestyle guidance, and even social events. They run amazing fundraisers year-round, so be sure to check out one of the links below for further details. They heavily rely on the surrounding communities’ support! Do what you can, we need more organizations like this on our world, especially right now.

Megan Scremin:
President & CEO of Special Olympics Colorado 

Megan joined the Special Olympics movement seven years ago as the Director of Events and began serving as Vice President of Development in 2014, where she successfully managed them organization’s fundraising efforts leading to a 60% increase in overall revenue, and the growth and development of several programs including Athlete Leadership. In her role, Scremin is responsible for leading a team of 40 professionals to implement Special Olympics Colorado’s programs and mission. She will oversee the development and advancement of the organization’s strategic plan to best serve individuals with intellectual disabilities, giving them opportunities to participate, compete, grow as leaders and lead healthier lives. 

The New York State native earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kentucky, Master’s Degree from Arizona State University and serves on the Board of Trustees for Emma Willard School, an independent all-girls high school in Troy, New York. Megan enjoys spending time with her husband, Marc, and children, Grayson and Maddie.

Mackenzie Beauvais- Nikl, SOCO Athlete:

Mackenzie is an athlete leader with Special Olympics Colorado. She currently serves as the Chair of their state AIC (Athlete Input Council) and is a member of SOCO’s Board of Directors along with being in the government major tract in ALPs U. Mackenzie also represented SO Colorado in Abu Dhabi at the global youth summit in 2019. 

The sports Mackenzie participates in are soccer, basketball, track and field, softball, flag football, snowboarding, and volleyball. She has been an athlete for 12 years. Most recently, Mackenzie received the incredible honor of being selected as Special Olympics Colorado’s Female Athlete of the Year for 2020. 

Mackenzie came into her family by adoption at two weeks old and lived in the mountains with her mom, dad and brother until she was six when they moved to the city. Mackenzie’s interest in sports began with wanting to be like her big brother who loved sports. She had difficulty being included on her school teams but then she found Special Olympics Colorado where she was not only included but celebrated. The confidence she gained from this has translated into all aspects of her life. 

Photography, animals, and advocacy have also been a big part of her life. Mackenzie received a certificate in disability advocacy from Colorado Cross Disability Coalition after taking their class conducted jointly with DU. She has had two of her photographs featured in a show at the Denver Art Museum and enjoys having people see her world through her eyes. She trained her own service dog, Mickey, in conjunction with Domino Service Dogs, is training her mom’s new puppy in basic obedience, and volunteered at the Denver Dumb Friends League until her school schedule became too heavy. 

After successfully completing Denver Public School’s Transitions program, Mackenzie enrolled in, and completed, the Inclusive Higher Education Certificated Program at Metropolitan University of Denver with a certificate in Parks and Recreation and photography. 

While Mackenzie learned to navigate both the bus system and light rail to get anywhere in the metro area, she had a dream of learning to drive. Master Drive offered her the opportunity to see if this was a possibility given her cognitive disability. In March of 2019 she received her driver’s license and the freedom that that entails. 

Each one of these successes builds on the previous one and leads to more. They all began with Special Olympics and the opportunity to realize her skills and talents. 

Mackenzie loves spending time with her family and friends, especially her unified partners Enzo Ewari, Lilie Stoolmen, and Emi Carlson with whom she has a special connection. These relationships push her out of her comfort zone. She also loves being a leader in all of the communities she is involved in, especially Special Olympics. 

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