Panama City Beach, FL-- Call it living an Olympic dream. It's the dream of a young local girl who, upon returning to school, has an absolutely incredible answer to the question "What did you do this summer?"
I'm talking about 6 year old Sidnie Caldwell, who along with her father Jon, spent the better part of a week in London watching the games in person. It's actually a journey that began in June!
"Well I've always loved the Olympics since I was little." says Jon Caldwell. "And in late June, Sidnie and I decided to go, on the spur of the moment, to the Olympic Trials, to watch the swimming in
Nebraska. We went for three nights there, and she met almost all of the swimmers. She got their autographs and got pictures with them, and she really loved it. After that, she definitely wanted to go to London."
So Jon booked the flights, the room, and went online to purchase tickets.
"Well I just decided it was the chance of a lifetime. Once we got there it was all worth it. We had all kinds of fun and met all kinds of people, it was definitely worth it.
And he says, they didn't just go to some Olympic events, they witnessed, in person, the marquee events, including her two favorite.
"Gymnastics and swimming." says Sidnie.
"We saw a lot of gold medal events." says Caldwell. "We saw swimming five nights. We saw the opening ceremonies, the lighting of the torch, it was unbelievable."
Yeah check out their pictures, and you see Sidnie going to Wimbledon, she saw the "Fierce Five" win gymnastics gold. But it was definitely the Aquatic Center that dominated their time, as the witnessed the likes of Soni, Franklin, and Lochte win gold, and, says Jon:
"We saw Michael Phelps win his 19th medal, the record breaking medal. And then after that, he came up, we were sitting near his family, his mom Debbie Phelps, and his sisters, and their little niece. And he gave, he had an earlier race, the butterfly, where he finished silver that night, and he gave his flowers from the medal ceremony to his little niece. She was 6 years old, Sidnie's age alos. And after the second race he gave the flowers to his mom. And his mom saw Sidnie upset because she wanted Michael Phelps flowers and so Debbie Phelps gave the flowers to Sidnie, and it was really special."
In fact other swimmers also gave Sidnie flowers, and a few gold medal winners, even tossed up their swim caps. Talk about great souvenirs! All this has left an indelible impression on young Sidnie.
Jon saying "She stopped doing cheerleading, and now she joined, she started doing gymnastics, and she wants to start swimming next week."
And she's already talking to dad about a trip to Rio de Janiero in 2012!