Groton teen gets grand welcome home after competing in Special Olympics

Photos by Jolene Almendarez/Ithaca Voice

Editor's Note: The following article originally appeared in our partner publication, The Ithaca Voice.

ITHACA, N.Y. — Dozens of people lined up along Main Street in Groton Sunday afternoon to welcome home a teen who won three medals at the Special Olympics in Austria this month in snowshoeing competitions.

Kinsey Henry, 17, won two silver medals in the 100-and-200-meter races and a bronze medal in the 4x100 meter relay with teammates.

Her competition in Austria was documented on her official Facebook page, where she can seen celebrating with teammates and enjoying the Olympic ceremonies.

Her father, Kevin Henry, spent time in Austria with his daughter while she competed.

He said he is usually with her during competitions helping to coach or encourage her. But during the Olympics, he had to watch from the sidelines.

"This was the first time I got to watch, just as a fan," he said.

Kevin Henry said his daughter -- who is Autistic -- used to be very shy and hardly talked to people. But since she started training in the Special Olympics five years ago, she's opened up to more people and is able to talk to groups and do interviews.

He said, "She's come so far in the past couple years."

When she won her medals, he said, it meant a lot to her.

"She was in tears — so excited when she won," he said. "She's very proud of herself."

At the welcome home gathering, Kinsey Henry's stepfather Brian Edwards handed out American flags to people who came to see Kinsey Henry come back to town.

"We really wanted to celebrate Kinsey's accomplishments at the World Games in Austria," he said, as fans held signs and chanted her name while they waited for her.

Shortly afterward, more than a dozen first responders drove by with lights flashing and sirens blaring as they escorted Kinsey Henry into town from the Cortland County and Tompkins County border.

The Tompkins County Sheriff's Department, Groton police, Groton Ambulance and firefighters from Groton and McLean escorted Kinsey Henry down Main Street and to the parking lot at Groton High School where more well-wishers were waiting.

Kinsey Henry, whose flight was delayed by four-and-a-half hours in Paris early Sunday morning, landing her in Albany this afternoon, exhaustedly hugged her friends and family.

When asked how she felt about coming home an Olympic medal winner, she kept it simple.

"Good," she said. "Really good."

More photos can be found here.