ATLANTA — A pair of Georgia twins took center stage at the Rio Summer Olympics Friday night.
They were part of a select group chosen to perform in the opening ceremony. J'son and Ja'kerria Walker are two of only eight American children chosen to stand on the worldwide stage when another Olympic torch was lit in Rio de Janeiro in front of 80,000 spectators and millions more watching around the world.
It's been an emotional journey for J'son Walker. The 12-year-old was diagnosed with a serious form of sickle cell disease in 2005.
Ever since, he's had to travel from Sylvester, Georgia, to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
But his family always had the Ronald McDonald House.
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"We could always depend on them to give us a place to stay when (J'son) was down sick," said sister Ja’kerria Walker.
They've logged countless miles and this week travels will take J'son and twin sister Ja'kerria more than 4,600 miles away to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games.
"I’m looking forward to seeing Michael Phelps and the statue of Jesus, and I want to see Gabrielle Douglas," J’son Walker told Channel 2 Action News from the beaches of Rio.
Thanks to their experiences at the Ronald McDonald House, they were picked to be a part of the McDonald’s Olympics Kids Program and perform in the opening ceremony.
They learned about the once in a lifetime opportunity in a surprise announcement where J'son couldn't contain his joy.
"It was a big surprise with a banner that said J’son and Ja'kerria going to Rio," J’son Walker said.
“For seven days and we were shocked and crying and stuff," Ja'kerria said.
J'son's come so far for this moment. He weighed just 2 ½ pounds at birth and suffered an aneurysm in 2010 that left him in a coma for 55 days.
But he kept fighting.
Ja'kerria, who has a milder version of sickle cell, has been right by his side. It's only right that continues in Rio de Janeiro.
"She's my cheerleader," J’son Walker said.
The twins will celebrate their 13th birthdays on Sunday. That's the same day they're set to return home from Rio.
Cox Media Group