Linda Harper works in the office of the St. Clair County Recorder of Deeds, but the biggest deed she recorded this year had nothing to do with property.
It involved a title, but it was a title that can't be purchased at any price.
This particular deed was a feat: the awe-inspiring championship performance of her daughter Dawn at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Two years after knee surgery, the amazing Dawn Harper very nearly repeated her gold-medal performance from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, this time coming within two hundredths of a second of the first-place finisher in the 100 meter hurdles.
Australian Sally Pearson edged out our hometown heroine with a 12.35-second time to Dawn's 12.37 in a nail-biter, photo-finish.
The two-time Metro East medalist now sets her sights on the next Olympics, as her proud mother begins saving for the trip to Rio in 2016 so she can be there in person when Dawn goes for another gold.
"That kid makes me proud all the time," says Mrs. Harper.
Us, too. Folks in St. Clair County haven't been this proud since the heyday of Al and Jackie Joyner, the fleet-footed siblings from East. St. Louis.
Jackie's husband, Bob Kersee, who trained Jackie and her sister-in-law, Florence Griffith-Joyner, is Dawn's trainer, too.
Dawn's triumphs lift the spirits of everyone around here. We've been disheartened for too long by the effects of a depressed economy. But Dawn does more than lift our spirits. She also shows us the way, the way out of our doldrums: the way of personal sacrifice and excellence.
There are no shortcuts on this path. Just hard work and lots of it, day in and day out. Training, training, training. Some victories, some defeats. Always another chance to give it your best.