Before Marnie Hornsby began participating with the Special Olympics, Helen Harris, of Covington, said her granddaughter was a completely different person.
Now, the 39-year-old Hornsby, of McDonough, and granddaughter of Covington's Frank Harris, is not only headed to Pyeongchang, South Korea, but also living her life in a way that her grandmother hasn't seen prior to 2006, the year Hornsby began with the Special Olympics.
"It's just been a miracle," Helen Harris said. "Marnie was very reserved. She rarely spoke and wouldn't look you in the eye, and she was, of course, very unhappy. She had all of these problems, and after she started the Special Olympics, she is completely different. My daughter calls her a social butterfly."
Hornsby has epilepsy, allergies and asthma, but on Friday, will have a chance at a gold medal for Team USA in alpine skiing and speed skating.
The festivities started Wednesday when the Special Olympics participants, friends and families,including Helen Harris gathered at the World of Coca Cola for fellowship.
Hornsby has been involved in several Special Olympics events, including tennis, bocce ball, equestrian activities, skating and basketball and has won several awards in those sports with the help of her coaches and volunteers.
"The instructors and volunteers are wonderful," Helen Harris said. "I suspect they are in this county too, because it takes a special kind of person to do that. It just means all the world to her. It's like the heavens opened up and blessed her."