Off the Course
Special Olympics has changed Kellen and his family in many ways. "Kellen's successes in Special Olympics have given him confidence to try things he may not have felt he could otherwise," his mother says, noting that Kellen applied to and interviewed for a job at the local grocery store independently and has worked there for the past 10 years. His enthusiasm for all he has accomplished with Special Olympics carries into his work. "He loves sharing his ribbons and medals with those he works with and customers that come in," Dawn adds.
This social personality made Kellen a perfect candidate to become a bigger part of Special Olympics. He completed their Athlete Leadership Program which gives athletes a chance to become more involved with the organization outside of sport and competitions. According to Special Olympics, "these roles give athletes a voice in shaping the Special Olympics Movement, and a chance to spread the word about the transformations Special Olympics can bring to individuals and families."
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In this role, Kellen has had a chance to fundraise through many golf outings and events, which is perfect for him. His mother says, "He loves going to the fundraisers and is great at working a crowd, just walking around schmoozing."
That ability to work a crowd helped bring Kellen to another exciting, if not freezing, opportunity with Special Olympics. Each year many of the Special Olympics programs have a Polar Bear Plunge, where pledges are collected for Special Olympics athletes and supporters alike who jump into freezing cold water in the name of raising money.
Kellen first got involved when a local coach couldn't get any of her swimmers to do the plunge. Kellen agreed and has been fundraising and hopping into ice cold water ever since.
A Family Changed by Golf
Special Olympics has helped to change the Kaasas as a family. "Kellen was always Taryn and Devin's biggest fans in their sports activities in school," Dawn says. "Special Olympics gave them an opportunity to be Kellen's fans. I really feel Special Olympics gave us all the common goal of being each others support which has made us closer as a family."
These days, the Kaasas have a family membership to their local golf course where you can find Kellen and his father golfing almost every day with Devin and Taryn joining when they can and mom riding along in the cart.
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