SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The good news came by mail a few weeks back.
"It is from the Special Olympics of Louisiana," explained 28-year-old Jamie Hickman of Shreveport, reading the outside of the envelope. After opening it up and reading the first word in the letter, "Congratulations", Jamie knew right away what it meant.
"I get to go to Seattle, Washington," she screamed, jumping up and down with excitement over the news she will be one of many special Olympians from the state to represent Louisiana at the U.S. Games next month.
Jamie is the current female athlete of the year for the Special Olympics of Louisiana.
"She's got the mindset of a winner," said Jamie's swim coach Leah Ramoz, during one of Jamie's practice sessions at the YMCA of Shreveport. "I think with her dedication and spirit, she's going to do great."
Jamie will be competing in the 100 meter freestyle and breast stroke events in Seattle from July 1-6. "I think with her confidence level, that she can do what anyone else can do," said her mother Dana Hickman.
But 28 years ago when Jamie was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome at two months old, Dana wasn't so sure about her daughter's future. "We cried. We didn't know what to expect. We didn't know what the future held for her," Dana explained. "When your child is diagnosed with something, you think it's something you weren't expecting. But I don't know what life would be like without her."
Jamie has been involved in Special Olympics for the last 11 years in northwest Louisiana. She along with hundreds of other athletes in northwest Louisiana compete each year on the local level at Benton High School (see previous report here). She has countless medals to account for it. "I've got a lot of medals. These are all of my gold medals," points out Jamie while looking at dozens of medals spread out across a spare bed in the family house. She also has medals donning bed posts, on the dresser, and three in particular framed in the hallway.
"I did this one when I went bowling in New Jersey," she explained. Jamie participated in the 2014 U.S. Special Olympic Games. "We don't look at it as a disability," explained Dana. "We are very fortunate to have her in our lives. She's change our lives. I've had people tell me that if they live in this world and have not met Jamie, then they're missing out."
Editor's note: KSLA News 12's Doug Warner airs his 'The Good Stuff' segments every Monday night on KSLA News 12 at 10pm. If you've got some good stuff you want Doug to report on, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.