QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - Ever since returning home from the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria with a gold medal, Ernie Reich has been basking in all the attention and honors that come with it.
The latest honor came from members of the Quakertown Borough Council who presented Reich with a proclamation during Wednesday’s meeting for his “accomplishment and dedication to the human spirit.”
Reich captured the gold medal in the international event after coming in first in the Alpine skiing competition with his time of 5 minutes and 12.66 seconds.
Council members took time to greet Reich, along with several members of his family, and thanked him for bringing honor to the local community.
On March 23, hundreds lined along Main Street of this small Bucks country town to give their local hero a proper welcome as Reich paraded with a full police escort while waving from atop in his friend’s Jeep.
“It was always one of my biggest dreams, and it was a big challenge in Austria to win a gold medal,” Reich said.
As member of the Montgomery County Special Olympics Alpine Team, Reich, who contends with intellectual disabilities, said competing on a world stage was the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life. He said he prayed to return home with a gold medal.
He did exactly that.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” Reich said.
The 47-year-old said he’s already been recognized wherever he goes, as people come up to shake his hand and pose for photos.
“No one has ever asked me for an autograph and one kid asked me for my autograph for the first time and that really touched my heart.”
Reich said he sometimes skis at Spring Mountain in Schwenksville where he also trains there for local and regional competitions.
“We are very proud,” Council President James Roberts said.
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