REHOBOTH, Del. -- Four Delawareans are preparing to compete in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in California.
Out of 6,500 athletes representing 165 countries at the Special Olympics this year, only four contestants from Delaware are qualified to compete.
One of them is Ginger Shaud, a Special Olympic gold medalist swimmer.
Shaud is autistic. She was adopted from China and brought to the U.S. where she was diagnosed with the neurological disorder as a baby. Swimming, Shuad says, is what she loves to do. Especially when she's part of a team.
WBOC met with Shaud at the Sussex County YMCA in Rehoboth Beach Friday night, where she trained with her step father, Jim Deakyne.
Shuad departs for Los Angeles with her team on Monday from Philadelphia where the group plans to have a send off party. Shaud says she can't wait.
"Yes I don't know what I'm gong to have for dinner yet at the party," said Shaud. "I'm going to meet and see a lot of aquatics friends."
Ginger's adoptive parents Karen Shaud and Jim Deakyne say they're beyond proud.
Deakyne says Shuad's devotion to swimming and progress at the Sussex Consortium school in Lewes let him know that his daughter can stand on her own two feet.
"Our plans are for her to become as self-sufficient as possible. And she's working toward that," said Deakyne.
"She works at a lot of different jobs right now to find out where her interests and her abilities lie," he said.
Rehoboth's YMCA staff say they're proud to know a local Delawarean can represent not just the country but the small beach town as well.
"It's pretty darn exciting," said Jeanie Donofrio, a lifeguard who's observed Shaud's swim trainings and competitions. "We're not a huge state but we do have some really great athletes here."
Jackie Armstrong is the Aquatics Coordinator for the Rehoboth YMCA. Armstrong says there are special needs programs offered at the facility as well as local teams.
"Our Special Olympics team have practices in this area, [they] come in and they use our facilities. So there is a team that's available in the area if someone wants to be involved," said Armstrong.
Shuad's journey to the Special Olympics starts Monday July 20 when she leaves for Los Angeles.
Shuad will be competing in the 100 freestyle, the 100 backstroke and the 200 freestyle on the University of Southern California campus.