CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — “Charleston, South Carolina,” are the words Raven Saunders shouts everywhere she goes. But the amount of love and support welcoming Raven home, is what she says motivates her to push forward.
“I want everybody today to make sure you check in on your loved ones. Make sure you’re checking on them mentally, make sure you’re checking on them physically,” Raven said as she greeted family, friends, and fans at Charleston International Airport.
Raven Saunders returned home to Charleston from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, sporting a silver medal around her neck.
A crowd in the airport cheering as Raven and her sister Tanzi walked through the doors — but sadly her number one fan was not in the crowd.
“With God taking my mom, I thank him again because she’s in a better place.”
Raven’s mother Clarissa Saunders died while visiting Orlando, Florida for an Olympic watch party. Her death, just days after watching Raven win silver in the women’s shot put.
Raven reflecting on her mother’s joy. “I’ve had so many people send me so many pictures and videos of her with a smile that’s bigger than I’ve ever seen on her face before.”
That smile, as she threw 19.79 meters, earning the two-time Olympian an impressive second place finish. But her work at the Olympic games was not done.
Raven used her time on the podium to send a message of love and support to anyone feeling like they don’t belong, as she formed an “X” symbol with her arms. That “X” standing for the intersection where all people who are oppressed meet.
“My thing is, making sure that I show people that despite everything, you can always, always, always keep fighting. You can keep pushing, you can keep striving, you can keep surviving.”
Raven says losing her mother was an eye opener as she vows to carry the legacy of Clarissa Saunders everywhere she goes.
“There’s two things that i say in life that you have to accept, physical or mental. One that it’s going to hurt and it’s going to be very painful, but two, understand that you’re strong enough and worthy enough to accept those challenges, and make it through.”
Funeral services have not yet been finalized. As the city of Charleston rallies behind the Saunders family, Mayor John Tecklenburg says Clarissa Saunders will always be a cherished member of the Charleston community.