Siouxland swimmer takes home more than just Olympic medals
A Siouxland swimmer is one of 7,000 athletes who competed in the Special Olympics World Summer Games this year.
Not many people can say they've won Olympic medals in their lifetime. But Burbank, South Dakota teenager Kathie Herrera can after winning four of them at the world Special Olympic games this year in Athens, Greece.
"It was a lot of fun and I got to meet a lot of new people from all around the world," Kathie Herrera said.
Kathie received three silver medals and one bronze in swimming. But her family says it wasn't all about the medals.
"Watching her compete in the Olympic, the real Olympic pool where other Olympians swam and won medals," Yolanda Herrera said.
Kathie suffers several disabilities stemming from fetal alcohol syndrome. Her parents say they've discovered ways to help her with them.
"Swimming to help her develop her physical and motor skills and it's been very effective obviously," Yolanda Herrera said.
And its special Olympics they say that helps this fifteen year old blossom.
"Special Olympics has helped her gain confidence, has helped her develop an identity about herself that she didn't have before," Yolanda Herrera said.
Kathie was emotional when she realized what she had done. She received three of her medals in individual swim events and one in relay.
"It was just a very humbling situation to see all these kids just hugging and smiling and supporting each other whether they were from each other's country or they were another country," Yolanda Herrera said.
That's what means the most to this special Olympian.
"I can always bring back those memories of the trip that I've had and I just will never forget them," Kathie Herrera said.
Because the friendships are worth more than the medals to her.
Kathie will continue to compete in special Olympics.
In addition to swimming, she also participates in bowling, basketball and track and field.