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      Pleasant Hill girl gets a gold medal send-off to the Special Olympics

      From right to left: Rawn Hart, Erin Hart, Kathy Hart, Paul Hart

      With only a year of training under her belt, one Pleasant Hill teen will live her dream while performing on the global stage. Erin Hart is a girl with autism, and is preparing for her trip to South Korea to represent Team U.S.A. In the 2013 Winter Special Olympics.

      Erin skated as a young child every once in a while, but truly began to pursue figure skating in the Autumn of 2011.

      "She is representing our part of the state, the state, and the United States and it is just a great feeling knowing your child is doing that," her father Rawn Hart said.

      Friends and family of Erin's gathered at the Lighthouse Inn Restaurant in Pike County, Illinois to give her a proper send-off days before she heads to Pyeongchang, South Korea.

      Erin's mother, Kathy Hart said skating has been a large help to Erin by boosting her confidence.

      "The changes in her since she started skating. It's just the confidence. She stands taller. She's always a smiling child anyway, but people call her sunshine for a reason. She has gained a lot more confidence. She is willing to go out there and be like, hello I am Erin," Kathy said.

      Erin has high expectations for the upcoming task and is shooting for that life long goal ... A gold medal.

      She leaves for South Korea Wednesday.

      The Winter Special Olympics begins on January 29th and ends February 6th.