Jeff Henderson made the leap back from Rio to his home state of Arkansas. The long jump gold medalist received a hero's welcome Wednesday upon arrival at Clinton National Airport in Little Rock.
Friends, family, fans, old coaches and other influencers of Henderson's Olympic journey bombarded him with hugs at the terminal. But there was only one person he wanted to see: His mother, Debra, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease.
"It's for her," he told reporters at the airport.
Henderson, 27, brought his medal right to her:
According to KARK 4 News (NBC Central Arkansas), Debra saw Jeff and asked, "Hey, how you doing?"
Jeff responded: "I want to put the medal on your head, but I don't want to hurt you."
— Greg Yarbrough (@GregYarbrough) August 17, 2016
When Henderson left, he told his mother he would bring her back a gold medal. It took 27 feet and 5 ¾ inches, but he did it.
Henderson told NBC his mom was diagnosed when he was 17 and the medal is for her because "she's the one who raised me when I was young."
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 15, 2016
Henderson's father, Laverne, stayed in Arkansas during the Olympics to care for Debra. Jeff's gold is also about him.
Next on my list is to give my dad what he wanted all along . A brand new house for him and my mom
— Jeffery Henderson (@Jeffery_henders) August 14, 2016
Jeff Henderson will not be the biggest name that comes out of Rio, but to his family in Arkansas, his journey is right out of a fairy tale.
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