CHICAGO (WLS) --There was a special sendoff on Saturday for a Chicago-area athlete participating in the Special Olympics Winter Games in Austria.
Mt. Greenwood native Tommy Shimoda is one of just nine speed-skaters nationwide to qualify for this year's games.
He is one of six athletes from Illinois competing in the Special Olympics Winter Games in events including snowshoeing, cross-county skiing and alpine skiing.
The 24-year-old Shimoda has autism and cannot speak.
Loved ones and political leaders gathered at Mt. Greenwood Park to wish him well.
"Today is a day that brings not only our community together but our entire city together honoring our hero, Tommy Shimoda," said Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th Ward).
Shimoda was also presented with a U.S. flag that flew over the capital building in Washington, DC.
ABC will carry the opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics World Games on Saturday, March 18 starting at 1:00 p.m.