A contagious smile and a heart of gold
This month, we feature Cole Ansay, one of the happiest and most helpful young men around. Cole will celebrate his 25th birthday next month. He has lived 21 of those years in The Village at Castle Pines, together with his parents, Kari and Matt, and four siblings.
Born with Fragile X Syndrome (a genetic mutation which causes intellectual disabilities), Cole has never stopped reaching for the stars as he forges his unique path in life. His contagious smile spreads ear to ear and his sweet disposition melts the hearts of everyone he meets.
Cole attended Buffalo Ridge Elementary School and was guided every step of the way with special education teacher aide, Sandy Everds, affectionately referred to as “Auntie Sandy.” His dream team of classroom teachers included Mrs. G, Mrs. Chagolla, Mrs. Lang, Mrs. Herzog, and Mrs. Phelan and some of his favorite friends included Sam and Will Frishman, Karlee Shaffner, Charlie Keely and Michael Mercer. Cole’s dad recalls taking him bowling with Charlie and watching Charlie join Cole by laying on the ground to watch the ball roll down the lane. “It was such a nice, friend moment,” said Matt.
After Buffalo Ridge, Cole attended Cresthill Middle School and Highlands Ranch High School (HRHS). He loved taking part in the Unified Sports basketball program, where supportive students would fill the stands and cheer on the players. “It’s the best sporting event I have ever been to,” shared Matt.
One of Cole’s friends at HRHS shared that Cole is always nice to everyone. “He is very loyal and caring to his friends and always makes them feel very special,” said Kari. Unified Sports student volunteers became very attached to Cole and it isn’t lost on his parents that, over the years, he was the inspiration for many college essays.
After high school, Cole transitioned to The Joshua School in Denver. The school was instrumental in helping further Cole’s growth in all aspects of life. While there, some of his vocational sites included Happy Dog Ranch – where he cleaned the barn and helped feed the animals and Chuck and Don’s – where he helped to stock shelves. He also worked hard daily on improving his functional math, reading and life skills.
Today, Cole is involved with Treeline Pass (TLP), a nonprofit organization for those ages 21 and older with autism and developmental delays. Four days a week he takes part in vocational outreach. He delivers meals to homebound seniors with Meals on Wheels, cleans workout equipment at Englewood Recreational Center, and cuts up food for animals at Denver Zoo. Cole is happy and enthusiastic about each of his volunteer jobs but is extra excited about the zoo. “I got a job at the zoo!” exclaimed Cole. He also loves woodworking and creating things, such as personalized cornhole games. He is fortunate to spend time doing so with the TLP volunteer creative director, Kathleen. “I’m always busy,” Cole added.
Around the house, Cole is helpful, enjoys spending time on his iPad and absolutely loves playing the card game, UNO. The Ansays have lots of friends and extended family who live in the Castle Pines community and they are so grateful for the wonderful support system Cole has had throughout the years, including the best teachers and schools.
“Cole is very easy going and is always willing to go along with whatever is planned for the day,” smiled Kari. “He loves the laid-back lifestyle of The Village at Castle Pines and tells us he never wants to leave.”
By Elean Gersack; photos courtesy of Kari Ansay