Hard Work Pays Off for Special Olympics VA Athlete Holly Claytor | мар 10, 2014 | North America: Virginia She may be small in stature and voice, but give her a box and a microphone and she will bring a crowd to its feet. She's Erica Bookout, Special Olympics Virginia's newly named Athlete of the Year. Erica is far more than a standout athlete and Global Messenger speaker, though. She's also a junior at Radford University, studying Special Education. Yes, she's a college student, about to get a college degree. A real one. Not an honorary one. How's that for smashing paradigms? “My Mom likes to say I am like the turtle from The Tortoise and the Hare. I am slow and steady. I never quit. And I always finish the race,” Erica said. “One important lesson I have learned through Special Olympics is to accept challenges and to always keep working hard toward my goal. I knew it would not be easy for me as a college student but I have worked hard, set goals and I’m proud of what I have accomplished.” Erica, you’re right. Hard work. Defying expectations. Sounds like an Olympics success story!