Athlete blog: Kayaker Steven Dodd on making his first trip to U.S.

Kayaker Steven Dodd is excited to come to America for the first time to compete in the Special Olympics World Games. Courtesy of Special Olympics

As ESPN.com counts down to the start of the Special Olympics World Games on July 25-Aug. 2 in Los Angeles, athletes, families and volunteers are sharing their stories with us. The following is a blog from Special Olympics athlete Steven Dodd.

Thank you very much for letting me write this blog for Special Olympics World Games. I would like to take you on my journey.

I have taken part in swimming and kayaking for many years. I train at least three times a week at the Plymouth & District club in South West England. Last year, I was raising money in the community and was told I was going to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics. I couldn't believe it. I have never been to America.

I competed in the 2013 Special Olympics National Games in Bath, England, and that gave me the belief to compete and enjoy sports. I was a volunteer in my community for more than five years, motivating teams to fundraise projects and trips for disadvantaged people. I have also done mission work with Smile International on five separate occasions. I was nominated and then selected for a "Young Achievers" award and attended a reception by the Queen of England -- who has written to me ahead of the L.A. Games -- at Buckingham Palace. What an honor meeting her and Prince Charles.

Following this, I organized the first fully disabled Prince's Trust team after asking Prince Charles for permission. I spent three days visiting the Houses of Parliament as a guest of my MP (Member of Parliament) in Plymouth. I went to Dublin with the Prince's Trust and Prince Charles gave me his business card.

I am a big fan of Steven Segal's martial arts and I have met him. My heroes are Segal, Brian from Tamar Canoe club and Angela Frayling, kayaking coach for Great Britain. I am also a pen friend with the Royal Marines' Alan Stockdale.

My highlights are meeting the Red Arrows, swimming the blue mile in Plymouth and meeting comedian Ken Dodd and The Royal Family. I enjoy drawing portraits and love art. I also enjoy camping, dog-showing, archery and shooting. I have done kayaking, running, biking, swimming, climbing, abseiling, walking, camping, hand-to-hand combat, disc javelin, shot put, roller skating, ice skating, horseback riding, pool and snooker. My nickname is Padrino and I enjoy going to church.

I just want to achieve my very best, enjoy new experiences and make friends.