With snow still on the ground, Sylvester Vermillion gets into his car and heads to the gym -- a familiar routine for the 45-year-old. It's a 20-minute drive from his home in Columbia Falls, a small Montana town just west of Glacier National Park. Once at the gym, the 6-foot-4 Special Olympics powerlifter puts on his headphones, with Eminem piping in, and laces up his shoes. He is getting ready for his final training session -- stateside, at least -- before he leaves for Abu Dhabi to compete at the Special Olympics World Games, an international sporting event for people with intellectual disabilities.
Vermillion, who has autism and experiences PTSD, is confident in his abilities. After all, he took home two gold medals and two silvers at the Special Olympics USA Games in July. That performance earned him a spot on the U.S. team at the World Games, and he'll compete against athletes from around the world on March 20.
"I'm more of a realist," he says. "I would love to win, but I'm not going to fill my head with it."
Here's a look at Vermillion's past few days in Montana and a snapshot of his experience in Abu Dhabi as one of 315 athletes in the U.S. delegation.