Monfort important in event’s move to GJ
When he was a rambunctious teen of 14, Charlie Monfort was out on a bike ride.
As curious as he was energetic, he saw a track and field event going on and decided to park his ride and check it out.
“I pulled over and just walked in to see what was going on,” he said shortly after the Special Olympics Colorado Summer Games were officially opened Saturday morning.
Monfort was instrumental in bringing the Summer Games to western Colorado for the first time ever.
The event he watched as a youngster was a Special Olympics event.
Speaking during Saturday’s opening ceremony, he reflected on that bike ride and how that day impacted his life.
“The smiles on their faces brought tears to my eyes,” he said to the huge Stocker Stadium crowd, more than 1,000 strong of athletes, coaches, volunteers, family and supporters.
As athletes prepared to begin the events, Monfort, 53, talked further about his love of Special Olympics and that day 39 years ago.
“There was this little girl running and she finished dead last,” Monfort said. “And she was smiling and celebrating. This was life-changing for her.”
It was life-changing for Monfort, too.
“I said right there that someday I’m going to be involved with Special Olympics.”
Monfort has a strong connection with Grand Junction. He served on the Colorado Mesa University board for eight years and his family often came to the area on vacation.
“I practically learned how to ski at Powderhorn,” he said.
Moving the Summer Games to Grand Junction was a natural fit, he said. Prior to this year, the event was held at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. The Monfort family has been linked to Greeley for decades. Charlie and his brother, Dick Monfort, are primary owners of the Colorado Rockies.
Again, during the opening ceremonies, Charlie Monfort voiced his pride in seeing the Summer Games come to the Western Slope.
“We’re very, very proud to hand over a great organization and a great cause to Grand Junction,” he said. “(Colorado) is one big happy family.”