Iowans love to support our Olympic athletes and Saturday they showed up by the thousands to give our athletes a hero’s welcome.
Fans packed the Knapp Center to thank Gabby Douglas, Lolo Jones, Miranda Leek, Lisa Uhl, and Jake Varner on a job well done in London.
With American flags in hand, Iowans came out to cheer on their favorite Olympians.
In a packed Knapp Center, each athlete was given a big Iowa welcome, one that even adopted Iowan Gabby Douglas can appreciate.
“It is a second home for me and I love it so much, I love the atmosphere, the people, I love everything about Iowa,” says Douglas.
7,000 excited fans showed up to hear what the athletes had to say, and experience a little bit of London right here in Des Moines.
“It's a really good thing to do with the kids, to bring them down here to see it's possible, whatever you want to do, it's possible,” says Marissa Citarelli who was visiting Des Moines from New York.
However, it wasn't just an experience for the fans, the athletes say it's always nice to get back to their roots, and interact with a state that's been behind them since day one.
“It's very, very exciting,” says Miranda Leek.
“It's great, you know, every time I come back here it's just like, I’m home, it's just really nice to be back," says Lolo Jones.
“There are fans all over the place, but it's good to know we still have fans back here and they're all excited,” says Jake Varner.
“It's like a big warm hug from the entire community, it's been amazing,” says Lisa Uhl.
Hy-Vee which sponsored the event donated $25,000 to the Special Olympic of Iowa in the name of each athlete.
Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds also gave a surprise to Gabby Douglas.
They presented her with a proclamation honoring her as an honorary citizen of Iowa.
They also proclaimed August 18, 2012 as honorary “Iowan Olympian Day."