CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg declared today Raven Saunders Day during a welcome home ceremony at the Olympian's former high school on Thursday.
What started as a typical meet and greet with Raven Saunders at Burke High School escalated into a day she will never forget.
First, Charleston County School District Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait awarded the Olympian a military tradition, the Superintendent Coin, intended for rare and courageous accomplishments; Raven is the second person ever to be honored with this award.
After that, Tecklenburg declared Aug. 18 as Raven Saunders Day.
The city then held a parade in downtown Charleston in honor of Saunders welcoming the Olympian home with community love.
"This place made me into who I am, and for the rest of my life I look forward to trying to help kids find their passion, their goals in life," Saunders said.
She says she plans to relax finally at least until Saturday; she'll be getting ready for the world championships in London.
Raven's mom, Clarissa Saunders, says she has never been more proud of her daughter.
"I don't have any words,"said Clarissa Saunders, Raven's mother."It shocked me today. This whole thing has been unbelievable."
Saunders finished fifth overall in the women's shot put competition, and set a personal best with a throw of 19.35 meters in the final.
"I progressed to the level that now, you know," Saunders said."Women who I've been watching since my freshman year of high school when I first got into the sports, and now I'm competing against them. I'm standing next to Valerie Adams. I'm 5'5' and' she's 6'5'' and I'm like looking up like this (motions her head upward). But at the same time, she's my competitor so it honestly gave me that extra boost, that extra adrenaline."
Saunders hasn't been back in the Lowcountry since Christmas and has been out of the country for two weeks.
"I'm so happy to be back home," Saunders said."I don't even have the words."
As for Saunders' experience in competing in the Olympics, she said she was happy with her performance finishing 5th place in the women's shot put final.
"I wish I could've done more, possibly brought back a medal to Charleston but I mean I still did my best and I got a [personal record] at the Olympic games, my first time around," Saunders said."I really can't be upset about that one."