Thousands of athletes are in Dalton this weekend to bring home the gold... and make lasting friendships.
For the third year in a row, Georgia Special Olympics has held its State Fall Games in Dalton. It includes bocce, softball, golf, running, walking, and other outdoor activities.
Though all of the participants lead extraordinary lives, one is different from the rest.
She has participated in this program for forty years.
Laurie Griggers of Macon, Ga. is living with Down Syndrome. Each year, her family encourages her to compete in the games. However, it's her encouragement toward her teammates that deserves a gold medal.
"This has been so important for Laurie through all these years. She loves to compete, she loves to win, she loves to do the best she can, she loves to cheer on her teammates," said Laurie's mother, Dorothy.
Laurie says she loves coming here to meet new people, and connect with old friends.
Though her mother says raising a child with a disability can be challenging, it has changed her family's world for the better.
"When a child with disabilities is first born, you think, 'Why in the world did this happen to them?' But you learn later this has been a big blessing. And the family is enriched because what they've lived through."
By: Kelsey Bagwell