GRAND-BARACHOIS - Alexondra Kiely will be surrounded by greatness and she should be feeling special about her own abilities too. The 12-year-old Grand-Barachois resident has qualified for the prestigious North American Hershey Track and Field Meet, scheduled for July 30 in Hershey, Pa.

Besides lining up against some of the top young track and field standouts from all over the continent, Kiely's all-expenses paid trip will include visits from members of the American Olympic track team.

She will also tour the town's famous chocolate factory and amusement park.

She'll never forget it, both from a track and field experience and as a life experience, said her mother Kathleen Kiely, who also helps coach the youngster. Qualifying for Hersey was an arduous ordeal and she had to prove her worth every step of the way.

First, she had to qualify as a top six finisher at a meet in Shediac in order to advance to the New Brunswick Hershey event.

The top six at provincials then qualified for the Atlantic Hershey meet July 5 at the Anna-Malenfant Track in Dieppe.

Only the top finishers at Atlantics even had a chance to move on to Hershey, but the odds were still stacked against her. Kiely's time was compared to all others in Atlantic Canada and the six New England States, an area known as Region 6.

Kiely will join teammates Alyson Colpitts, Cassidy Richards and MacKenzie Amos, all of Fredericton, to run the four-by-100 metre relay for Region 6 in Hershey.

Kiely is the only athlete from southeastern New Brunswick to qualify for Hershey.

She's worked very hard and she's made some great improvements, her mother said. I know she's looking forward to see how well she can perform in Hershey.

Kiely, who will enter Grade 7 at Bessborough School in Moncton this fall, is a member of Athletisme Sud-Est Southeast Athletics Club. Besides her mother, she is coached by Peter Stuart and Stephany Reid.