Special Olympian skier Jody Lawrence held his medals high as he was greeted by well-wishers on his return home from the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Feb. 25-29 in Thunder Bay.
Jody won gold in the relay and a silver medal in the 2.5 kilometre classic race. He placed fifth in the 500 metre and five kilometre race events.
"These races were the best I've been to, and I got my best results as well," he told the Labrador Voice as he walked into the Wabush airport.
The five Team NL cross country skiers had four races each, as well as the relay. They ended up with 13 medals in total.
Rhonda Lawrence, his mother and coach, said the facilities and games organization was nothing short of amazing.
"In addition to the competition, the games are also about friendship and helping one another," she added.
Volunteers were fast to help, and when other teams were invited to join Team NL in pre-race stretching there was so much appreciation for the offer, she said.
Rhonda noted one volunteer, named Robin, took over responsibility to wax the skis of Team NL. She says he did an amazing job, checking weather and temperatures to make sure the wax was perfect for the day.
The team presented Robin, who used his own waxes, with a thank you card for his generosity and the spirit he showed the athletes.
As coach, Rhonda says she was a little nervous, but that soon melted away as the team members performed so well.
"I was at the finish line for most of them and when I thought Jody was going for a medal, I was yelling, 'Keep it up, double pole, don't give up.'
"At one point I had to speak to him about the need to pass other skiers to get a better time. One of his teammates Sarah also spoke to him about it and he said he would, and he did."
No matter what team or what province athletes were from, they all cheered for each other.
"Jody made a lot of friends at the games, and the experience helped him immensely. It took him out of his shell a bit and the games opened a lot of doors for him."
The games were amazing and emotional for the entire Lawrence family.
"The joy on Jody's face said it all as he was surprised by a large crowd of well-wishers who met him at the airport," she said.
He was then whisked away with his parents to a parade in his honour, accompanied by the fire department, police and others, to his home town of Wabush.
A reception was also hosted by the town at the recreation centre where Jody spoke with his many supporters.
"We are proud of Jody's accomplishments and the fine example he has shown for people," said Wabush Mayor Ron Barron.