CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. -

For more than 40 years, the Special Olympics has been an organization where kids and adults with disabilities can compete in a wide range of sports.  And one athlete in the New River Valley has really found her niche in the organization.

Erica Bookout has always been involved in sports, but it wasn't until the 9th grade that she became involved as an athlete in the Special Olympics.

"Special Olympics is fun because you meet new people and you get to do sports," Bookout said.

Erica chose to focus on track and field after trying other sports, and not only made it to the Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey earlier this summer, but she was also named the Virginia Special Olympics Athlete of the Year in 2013.

"Being selected as the Virginia Special Olympics Athlete of the Year was pretty cool. I got to do a speech in front of the whole board of Special Olympics and the police department."

For her parents, it's been an incredible journey to see their daughter, who was born 11 weeks premature with an intellectual disability, come into her own through Special Olympics.