Special Olympics Gold Medalist from Palmerton Meets President Trump

PALMERTON, Pa. -- On display at Delina Rodrigues' home in Palmerton are countless medals, certificates, and newspaper articles highlighting her impressive athletic achievements. But there's one medal that's particularly special and heavy.

"It felt good," Rodrigues said with a smile. "It felt awesome."

Even "good" and "awesome" don't describe what the last few months have been like for the 24 year old. In March, Rodrigues won the gold medal in powerlifting at the Special Olympics World Games on the other side of the globe in Abu Dhabi.

"It was kind of crazy," Rodrigues added. "But it was awesome."

"Special Olympics is her outlet," Delina's brother, Darris said. "That's the way she portrays herself. And the fact that she went to the highest level that she could possibly go to and do the best that she possibly can, it'll be hard to top. Very hard to top."

For a while, it seemed like nothing could top becoming a world champion and taking home gold until an opportunity arose July. Delina, the gold medalist, was invited to the White House to meet President Donald Trump.

"To be there in that room," Delina's father Dave said. "That very few people will ever, ever be. And to have both the vice president and his wife and the president and his wife there. Powerful people. Powerful people."

This wasn't just an ordinary "hi" and "goodbye" with the president. Joined by her fellow Special Olympians inside the Oval Office, Delina was designated to hand the president a gift.

"Special Olympics International gave us a baseball jersey and we had to sign it and we put it in the bag, saying here's a gift from team USA," Delina said. "So we handed him the tee shirt. He was like touching my shoulder, my muscle. It was funny."

Special Olympics haven't just changed Delina's life by offering her and others with disabilities once in a lifetime opportunities. Delina's successes have positively impacted the Rodrigues family and the surrounding community as a whole.

"People get involved to help them," Dave Rodrigues said. "To change them. They feel sorry, things like that. But they change us."

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