ATLANTA — When you're an Olympian, teamwork is everything. It also means understanding the importance of sacrifice and commitment to achieve victory.
However, two Georgia Olympians are taking those lessons they've learned as professional athletes and turning them toward parenting.
The little guy was born with Down syndrome and is deaf in both of his ears, adding plenty of challenges for the new family. But, Nic and Elana are taking on those challenges with stride, and letting both their literal and figurative teammates share in the journey with them.
Recently, doctors surgically implanted a device to allows young Nico to hear. And with help from the Atlanta Speech School, he is starting to hear the world around him and learn to engage with it.
"Ever since he got his cochlear implants, it's been a night and day difference," Elana told 11Alive. "Whenever you are a parent, you aren't sure what the best decision is, especially with implants. To see him have such development since then, it really feels good."
The speech school has been an important part of the family's home base in Atlanta, especially as Nico continues to learn how to connect things with sounds that identify them.
His teachers even made Nico a special book with pictures of the most important people in his life, so he can learn the sounds of their names.
Elana and Nic have also been thankful to the parents, grandparents, and extended family of fellow Olympians who have shared in this journey with them.
Among those teammates is Lauren Gibbs, who won silver with Elana four years ago, and has recently taken on the role of aunt to little Nico.
"With COVID, he hasn't been able to be around many people. Since we are tested and vaccinated, we can give him that interaction," Gibbs explained.
Elana added that her team has been incredible throughout this journey and noted often that they spend more time with Nico than even some of her family.
"Any way we can make his life better and make him have a happy life, that is what we are going to do," she said, noting that she and Nic plan on extending that mission to however many children they are blessed to have.