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. As Karen Loftus explains, 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. Erica Bookout, 2013 Virginia Special Olympics Athlete of the Year, "Special Olympics i fun because you meet new people and you get to do sports." 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. Erica Bookout, "Being selected a 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. Allan Bookout, Erica's Father, "Sh has always far exceeded our expectations but certainly she really took off in her middle school years and then getting involved in Special Olympics really helped her with her socialization and being a part of a team and cheering other people on and it just shows her compassion for other people." Coreen, "Oh ver exciting to watch her grow and mature and just turn in to the young adult that she is and accomplishing goals and setting goals for her future that are far surpassed our greatest expectations. She never ceases to amaze us." Not only has Erica excelled in Special Olympics, but she's also continuing to exceed expectations in the classroom, as a student at Radford University, studying to become a special education teacher. Allan, "Well that's th biggest thing is there again her academic hopes that we anticipated that she was going through earlier years of school were not great and she always exceeded our expectations so for her to be able to go to a major 4-year university and succeed there is amazing to us and hopefully it is to her as well but we're very proud of her." Erica, "i want to d special education because i want to show other special needs kids that they can do more than what they can do to build their self esteem and self confidence." Karen Loftus, @kcloftus, "Eric hopes to continue participating in the Special Olympics with her sights set on the next usa games in 2018. In Christiansburg, Karen Loftus, wdbj7." Stocks finished the day lower.