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Redeen family of Great Falls recognized by Special Olympics Montana

Posted at 6:09 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 20:44:07-05

GREAT FALLS — Jared Redeen is a 30-year old with Down syndrome, and one of the most well-known Special Olympics athletes in Montana. His parents, Jeff and Joan Redeen, are his biggest fans and supporters and have helped the mission of Special Olympics Montana immensely while watching Jared gain confidence as an athlete and young man. 

Earlier this week, the Redeen family attended a reception at the SOMT state office in Great Falls where they were surprised when they received recognition for their work and support. 

The CEO of Special Olympics Montana, Rhonda McCarty, presented the Redeens with the 2021 Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Family of the Year. 

It was a well deserved honor. Jared has been an SOMT athlete since 2005 and is currently serving as the Law Enforcement Torch Run Ambassador. 

Joan is a coach, volunteer, and the finance coordinator for the Area Management Teams. She also singlehandedly created the Under the Big Sky Buddy Walk which helps raise awareness for people with Down syndrome. Jeff is a unified partner and coach for Jared and other athletes. 

Redeen family of Great Falls recognized by Special Olympics Montana

But most of all, they’ve enjoy everything that SOMT has done for Jared over the years.

“He’s more outgoing. Because we're all pretty introverted, but he's very much more outgoing,” Joan said about Jared. “He wants to be involved. He wants to participate. He takes great pride in what he does with (SOMT) and the sports that he's been involved in.”

The moment was bittersweet for the Redeen family. After 22 years in Great Falls, they’re moving to western Montana to be closer to their first grandchild. Their oldest son Justin and his wife welcomed Patrick Miles Redeen to the world in early October. 

“We’ve been over there twice and the whole time I'm there, I never let go,” Joan beamed.

Leaving is hard. The Redeens have been staples in Great Falls for decades. But connections made through Special Olympics will help with the transition. 

“There was a long time where I didn’t call Great Falls home and then suddenly I did, but it is really hard to leave,” Joan said. “But the beauty of the Special Olympics family is how small it is. We’re connected to people statewide, nationwide and internationally.”

Jared is looking forward to seeing more of his nephew. He plans to teach him how to ride a bike, walk, and talk. 

He breaks into a sly smile. 

“And how to put on underpants by yourself,” he cracks.

His parents laugh. 

“This wise guy,” they chuckle. 

Turns out, we can all learn a lot about life from Jared. His nephew is lucky.