DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — Douglasville native Elana Meyers Taylor has Georgia supporting her as she enters her fourth Olympic appearance. The journey to get there hasn't been an easy feat, but family and friends continue to drive her. A part of that village is her young son, Nico.
"It’s been a crazy journey since PyeongChang and one of my biggest goals was to start a family so we are so fortunate to be here and actually living this dream," she previously told 11Alive in an interview.
Nico, who will be 2 years old soon, serves as an inspiration to his mother and his father, Nic Taylor, who is also a bobsledder. Nico was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Elana also said her son was deaf in both ears when he was born and he goes to the Atlanta Speech School. Elana said she’s learned from her son what strength really means.
“He’s has had challenges in his short life and he is so resilient,” she said. “He inspires me and makes me want to be a better person every day."
Recently, doctors surgically implanted a device to allow 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 said. "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 school has been an important part of the family's home base in metro Atlanta, especially as Nico continues to learn how to connect things with sounds that identify them Her strong family and friends are also a part of that base, including Tiffeny Parker, a teammate and friend who has helped care for little Nico. Elena expressed gratitude in a recent Instagram post.
"There are very few people you can trust with your ❤️, but @tiffiep [Tiffeny Parker] gave up her bobsled career to take care of mine, Nico. She’s an angel sent from heaven and has made memories of a lifetime with my son and family- you are our family forever and always," she said. "There are few people you can trust with your children, and the fact that she was willing to travel around the world and make sure he was always safe means everything."
Also, a part of her team of help is Elana's dad. In a blog post on Olympics.com, Elana said her dad would be joining the family in Beijing to help make sure Nico has everything he needs.
The mom, who is still breastfeeding, recently shared that she's leaned on her husband, her son, and her dad every step of the way to the Winter Games.
She said "..and near or far (and even in isolation in China), I know I always have their love and support as a source of strength."
She missed out on being a flag bearer at this year's Opening Ceremony due to COVID. But now, Elana is finding light from that moment to give back. Because being a flag bearer gets you your own special jacket, she decided to auction off her other Team USA parka to raise money for a cause that's personal to her: Down syndrome research.
"I'm going to be auctioning it off to NDSS, which is the National Down Syndrome Society," Taylor said in a special message to 11Alive's Cheryl Preheim. She emphasized that all proceeds will be going to the organization and specified that the jacket in question is indeed one of a kind.
And event though Nico is young, she wants her biggest inspiration to know know that his mother is still pursuing her Olympic goals. She said he's resilient -- and it shows.
"He goes through so much and overcomes so much and he is my biggest inspiration," she said.