by Stephanie Stahl and Mike Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — She’s the fastest woman on three wheels and has won all kinds of Paralympic medals.

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Tatyana McFadden, who’s partially paralyzed, was back in Philadelphia on Thursday for an important thank you.

Her amazing journey started here in Philadelphia at Shriners Hospital for Children where she was first treated. She’s gone on to become a world-renowned wheelchair athlete. Now she’s all about sharing her inspiring story and saying thank you.

“I have four gold medals from Rio,” McFadden said.

Sharing the gold, McFadden is back at Shriners for a victory lap signing photos, posing for pictures and sharing her story with current patients.

The 27-year-old has broken racing records around the world, including being the first person ever to win the Grand Slam 4 World Major Marathons in the same year.

“I’ve always followed a dream and for me that was racing and athletics, I never gave up on it,” McFadden said.

It’s amazing considering McFadden, who has Spina Bifida, started life in a Russian orphanage. Paralyzed from the waist down, she learned to walk on her hands, trying to keep up with the other children.

“All of a sudden, you know, you’re getting medically treated. I never had that before for the first six years of my life,” she explained.

She was adopted in 1994 and brought to Shriners for treatment.

“I was pretty sick and I needed several surgeries because my legs were atrophied behind my back,” McFadden said.

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Dr. Scott Kozin, the chief of staff at Shriners, said, “We worked a lot on her wheelchair and her sitting balance.”

He said McFadden has become  a role model to other young patients. “

“There are no limits as to what kids can accomplish … they’re truly able to accomplish these remarkable tasks, including the Olympics, including becoming attorneys and doctors and scientists, it’s truly a feat,” Kozin said.

As a former Shriners’ patient, McFadden knows what these kids are going through. Now, she’s the most accomplished wheelchair racer the world has ever known.

“I was in their position, 6-and-a-half, 7 years old going through several surgeries, and it’s amazing to be a role model and to hopefully change someone’s life,” McFadden told KYW Newsradio’s Michael Dougherty. “I love what I do, and this is why I do it. To see their reactions.”

Tatyana McFadden

Tatyana McFadden visiting patients at Shriners Hospital. (credit: Michael Dougherty)

Three-year-old Dilon, who uses a wheelchair, couldn’t take his eyes of Tatyana or her race chair.

His mother Valerie says it was important for him to meet a champion.

“It’s amazing to see the fact that, you know, they can excel and be true athletes,” she said.

McFadden said it was a rough journey, but in sharing her story she wants everyone to know dreams come true, anything is possible.

“This  is where it all started for me, just trying to live a normal life, from walking on my hands to actually sitting in an every day chair, I couldn’t do that before. Shriners allowed me to do that,” said a grateful McFadden.

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She graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies and is back there now getting a masters in child life. She said she wants to give back and continue racing as long as she can.