'Snowboarding is the light of her life'

Shilts does not disappoint in gold medal run (4:00)

Daina Shilts finishes in 55.40 seconds to capture the Special Olympics gold goal in the snowboarding super-G F3 event. (4:00)

[Editor's note: Faith Schroeder wrote this essay about her aunt Daina Shilts, Special Olympics snowboarder, for a high school assignment. It has been edited by ESPN.]

Life is different for everyone: It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, life will always have its up and downs. People love conquering their dreams, and some have difficulties and obstacles in the way. I believe that people can do whatever they want, as long as they keep their minds to it.

Daina Shilts, 26, a Special Olympics snowboarder, has reached so many goals throughout her life. This snowboarder happens to be my aunt. She has always had challenges with health issues; she adapted and learned, but she never gave up. Throughout her journey she has inspired people to push themselves to do the things they loved. She has been pushing herself since she was kid: She joined groups, tried new things and got involved with the Special Olympics.

I believe that people couldn't do things without support and compassion. Throughout her journeys, I have been so proud of her. She has shown excitement and love in every competition she has competed in and to every person she has met on the way. Although she loves being independent, she encourages others to get on a board and feel the rush.

As I said, I believe that people can do whatever they want if they keep their minds to it. When Daina competes, she glides through the snow like a penguin. Snowboarding is the light of her life; she honestly cannot live without it. She has showed me that no matter what disabilities or challenges you have, you can still do the things you love.

I believe that people are destined to achieve their goals. Daina has competed in the World Games in South Korea in 2013 and competed in the X Games Unified snowboarding competition three times. In just a couple of days, she will be competing in the World Winter Games in Austria, and luckily, I'll have the chance to be there to cheer her on. Every time she gets up on a board she's proving a point.

I am so glad to have Daina in my life. She isn't a role model just for me, but for people all around the world. She has taught me so many valuable lessons and tries to encourage me every step of the way. One thing that I've learned is that people deserve a chance in this world. They deserve to be heard.