Peter Hill has been competing in the Special Olympics since he was a young child living in Virginia.
But last year, the 34-year-old Lincolnshire resident switched from softball to track and field.
The move paid off, as Hill earned a spot representing Illinois in the upcoming Special Olympics 2014 USA Games kicking off Saturday in New Jersey.
"He's got pretty long legs and he runs fast, so track and field seemed like the thing to do," said Peter's mother, Janet Hill. "He's a natural."
Hill will compete in the 800-meter race, the 4x100 relay and the running long jump. He said he likes the relay best.
"It's a short enough race," Hill said.
Hill was diagnosed with cri du chat syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that results in a missing part of a chromosome.
But he's also the middle of three brothers, and his parents had the same expectations for Peter as they did for his siblings.
"We set the bar high and he meets it," Janet Hill said. "We never look at what he can't do."
Janet Hill thinks her son got his love of sports and competition from his brothers.
"They just ran together," she said.
Hill's parents, Janet and Robert, will travel to New Jersey to cheer on their son. Janet Hill called the Special Olympics USA Games "a chance in a lifetime."
"(It) shows the value in every single person -- what he can do, not what he can't do," she said.