Photo submitted Lee Dockins and her father, Harris standing beside the display where Lee is featured at the Smithsonian Institute.

Photo submitted

Lee Dockins and her father, Harris standing beside the display where Lee is featured at the Smithsonian Institute.



Logan County's Lee Dockins appeared in a recent Washington Post article that featured a new display at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. Dockins is among 5 stars of Special Olympics' first half-century at the Smithsonian Institute.

Dockins was honored along with Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder and honorary chairperson of Special Olympics; Marty Sheets, an athlete who was at the first Games in 1968 and competed until 2009, winning around 250 medals; Ricardo Thornton, who worked at the DC Public Library in 1978 and who President Obama appointed to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities in 2014 and Loretta Claiborne who was born in 1953, was partially blind and had an intellectual disability. She wasn't able to walk or speak until age 4. In 2000, she was the subject of a Disney TV movie called "The Loretta Claiborne Story."

"I am honored to be among all these wonderful people," said Lee. "It is really a shock and doesn't seem real."

Lee and her mom and dad, Harris and Sharon Dockins of south Logan traveled to Washington D.C. last week for a reception of the new exhibit "Special Olympics at 50," which opened Tuesday, July 17.

"When I was standing in front of the exhibit that had Lee's photograph, leotard and grips I felt I was in a different world," said Sharon, Lee's mom. "It was so surreal."

This is perhaps the biggest accolades Lee has gotten so far in her 31 years, but it is definitely not the first accomplishments in her almost 25-year career as an athlete.

Lee has been all over the United States and many places in the world as part of the Special Olympics. She has won over 200 medals, competed in the U.S. Games as well as the World Games where she has traveled to China, Greece and Switzerland. She serves as Ambassador and Global Messenger for the Special Olympics and most recently won three gold medals as part of Team Kentucky at the U.S. Games in Seattle. She was featured on ESPN as one of the "Fab Five" of the Kentucky Team who came home with 12 Gold Medals, 6 Silver Medals, 3 Bronze Medals, 3 Fourth Place Ribbons, and 1 Sixth Place Ribbon.

Lee began taking gymnastics at age eight with Donnie and Polly Porter of Logan County Gymnastics. There she learned over the years the discipline it takes to be a world-class athlete.

"Gymnastics has taught me a lot of things," said Lee. "I am not shy and can make friends easily. I have made several from all over the world."

Lee was recommended to appear in the display at the Smithsonian by her coaches Mary Fehrenbach and Rory Topping.

"We weren't sure at first if Lee would get in. There were several to select from," said Sharon. "When we heard Lee was selected we were so excited."

Lee was even asked to come up on stage and give a speech during the reception by Dr. Tim Shriver, the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

"It makes me happy," said Lee of her honor. "I love the other athletes and have loved being a part of the Special Olympics all these years."

Sharon said she owes a special thanks to one of Lee's teachers, Karen Milliken.

"She told us about the Special Olympics and thought it would be something Lee would enjoy. I had not thought about it at the time. Thanks to Karen it has changed our daughter's life," said Sharon. "We've never looked back and it's been full steam ahead."

Sharon said it's unbelievable what Lee has accomplished over the years. She said she would never have dreamed of all the opportunities Special Olympics has opened up for her daughter.

"It makes us all as a family very proud of Lee. She has been able to meet new people and be introduced to new cultures," said a tearful mom.

As for Lee, this is just one more step in a long stairway in life for her. I wouldn't count out anything in her future.