Team shirts ranging from neon orange to tie-dye to bright red filled the Meridian Speedway June 22 for the 41st annual Idaho Special Olympics opening ceremonies. Approximately 1,100 athletes and coaches gathered from all over Idaho to celebrate the statewide summer games.
Athletes varied in age from 10 to 70. Excitement filled the air as friends reunited from around the state, chatting and giving high-fives all around. Coaches shepherded teams around the bleachers and across the race track, where athletes waved and carried banners with their team names.
Past Special Olympics champions gave welcoming speeches to the athletes and the three athletes traveling to the World Games in Korea in 2013 were introduced on stage. A police officer helped light the Torch of Hope; some athletes laughed and cried in joy at the display.
The sporting events kicked off June 23 with a basketball competition at Timberline High School, an aquatics competition at the West YMCA, cycling at the Idaho State Police Headquarters, powerlifting at Timberline, and track and Field events, also at Timberline.
Click here to see a slideshow of Friday's events.