Glenwood man headed for Special Olympics Hall of Fame
Eighteen years ago Chris Guay, 36, of Glenwood Springs began competing in Special Olympics events all across the state of Colorado.
Now, he’ll be honored as the Colorado Special Olympics Male Athlete of the Year, Oct. 15 at the Hyatt Hotel in Denver.
The induction of Guay into the Colorado Special Olympics Hall of Fame will mark the first time in roughly 10 years that a native of the valley will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, which is a pretty big deal to Guay and his family.
“I’m pretty excited to receive this honor,” Guay said during a sit-down at his mother’s jewelry store, Jewels and Gems, on Grand Avenue on Tuesday. “It’s a pretty cool accomplishment for me, and I’m really looking forward to receiving the plaque with my name on it.”
On Oct. 15, Guay will give a speech in front of more than 700 people with his mother, Cheryl, father, Louis, and long-time girlfriend, Shannon, which is something the athlete of the year is nervous about.
“I’m a little bit nervous, but this is such a cool experience for me,” he said.
Despite the nerves that currently run through Guay’s body before his big day, it’s been a long road traveled to get where he is today as a successful Special Olympics athlete.
At first, Guay — a 1998 graduate from Glenwood Springs High School — wasn’t supposed to be much of an athlete due to limited motor skills that doctors felt would hold him back. However, his mom, Cheryl, didn’t see the same limitations as the doctors and always encouraged him to do what he wanted when it came to sports.
Due to that encouragement from his mother and father, Guay began running in high school with the Demons track team, routinely logging 20-minute miles throughout his sophomore season.
But through hard work and a competitive drive that was instilled in him by his parents, Guay saw his time drop into the mid-sixes — a huge accomplishment for him at the time.
All Guay wanted out of running in high school was to receive a letterman jacket. To this day, Guay still has it, but he never imagined he’d be named most improved runner in his senior year.
After high school, Guay continued to run competitively throughout the valley, recently competing at the Special Olympics’ state track meet in Grand Junction this past July.
While there, Guay placed first against runners from all over the state. Following his performance in Grand Junction, Guay was notified that he’d be inducted into the Special Olympics Hall of Fame.
His mother, Cheryl, couldn’t be more proud of her son, who’s accomplished so much despite the initial prognosis from doctors roughly 35 years ago.
“I feel like John Elway’s mother,” Cheryl said, as a smile cracked across her face. “I honestly couldn’t be prouder of Chris and who he’s become. He continues to amaze me day after day.”
In fact, Guay continues to amaze everyone around him as he continues to rack up personal achievement after achievement.
But all of this may not have happened if it were not for his move to Vail following his high school graduation.
Coming out of high school, Guay began competing in the Special Olympics, training in alpine skiing with his then-roommates Ian Bauer and Larry Vasquez.
From there, Guay continued to get better and better on the mountain, leading to him competing regularly at Sunlight and Snowmass Mountain alpine events.
Just this past year at regionals, Guay finished the Giant Slalom in 27 seconds and the Super-G in 1 minute, 7 seconds.
“I just got better and better by going out onto the mountain every day with my roommates,” Guay said. “I love the thrill of being outdoors on the mountain and going fast.”
Now, Guay is a regular in alpine skiing competitions across the state, but his true passion seems to reside in running competitively, in both Special Olympics events and local runs, such as the Mound to Valley race, in which he completed the four-mile race in 35 minutes.
It’s the thrill of competing against other great athletes in the valley that drives Guay, who has made many friends through Special Olympics events over the past 18 years.
Although he’s continued to compile achievements throughout the years, Guay doesn’t seem to care about winning or losing; he just wants to compete.
“Somebody is always going to be better than me,” Guay said. “That doesn’t matter to me, because I just try to keep up with them and keep improving.”
While competing in Special Olympics events, Guay has done just that, continuing to improve his times year after year.
Outside of Special Olympics, Guay works for Safeway, is a black belt in taekwondo and is an Eagle Scout.
He’s constantly on the go, whether that’s training, helping out at his mother’s shop in Glenwood or enjoying the outdoors.
Everything that Guay has done and continues to do makes his father, Louis, exceptionally proud of him.
“It’s amazing what he’s accomplished,” Louis said. “Not too many people do all of this at such a young age, but Chris has. I’m so proud of him for who he is, as well as what he’s accomplished. Everything he does is just great to be a part of for me. He’s the reason we’re a family.”
Now that he’s achieved so much, Guay doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
However, he might take a few weeks to sit back and enjoy some of these feats with his family.
He’s earned it.
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