(WGHP) — Dustin Edmondson puts his whole heart into everything he does. Whether it’s as a groundskeeper for his hometown of Pleasant Garden or training for the run of a lifetime with Special Olympics.

“Even though I have a disability, it (Special Olympics) doesn’t care,” Dustin said. “I just go out there, and I compete and hopefully bring home the gold.”  

And he’s brought home a lot of medals over the years. Dustin, 23, has participated in Special Olympics North Carlina (SONC) since he was eight years old. Most recently, he competed in swimming at the State Games in Raleigh.

It hasn’t been an easy road.

“We beat a lot of odds over the years with him,” said Sherri Edmondson, Dustin’s mom. 

Edmondson was born prematurely and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Doctors told his parents he may never walk or talk.

“When he was born, they told us 24 hours,” Sherri said. “And we’ve made it 23 years, and we’re going to make it a lifetime because he doesn’t give up.”

Now Dustin is training for his next big challenge that’ll take him to Berlin, Germany, later this month.

He was selected to represent SONC in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg to help carry the Flame of Hope and open the 2023 Special Olympics World Games Berlin.

He’s one of five athletes chosen. 

It is a big honor and an even bigger responsibility.

“People look up to me, and I also look up to them,” Dustin said. “I try to set an example for others to make good choices.”

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A perfect mix of determination and heart fuels Dustinn’s every step as it has his entire life. 

“Because people are rooting me on, it gives me motivation to get better and get better at each and everything that I do,” Dustin said.

The Special Olympics World Games Berlin run from June 17 to June 25.