Athletes take the field for the 2015 Special Olympics Big Feet Meet

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Athletes took center stage Thursday in a sport that goes beyond the field - the Special Olympics.

More than 450 middle and high school special needs athletes competed at the Big Feet Meet track and field event at William Fleming High School. For the athletes, there is no better feeling than crossing the finish line.

Crowds cheered as winners took the podium and proudly accepted ribbons in front of friends and family. Athlete James Spaulding said he had the best day.

"We had the best time of all times ever.... This will be the best day ever," Spaulding exclaimed.

And that's what it's all about - a day of happiness and independence, and celebrating accomplishments. Director of Roanoke City's Special Education program Rita Willis said everyone involved looks forward to this day.

"Nobody has to help them. They can help themselves. I almost have tears in my eyes because they are so happy. They know that this is their joy, their accomplishments so it is one of the most important days of the year for them," Willis explained.

And parents of athletes will tell you the same. The best present a parent could ask for was a moment of glory marching the iconic Olympic Torch into the games. Athlete Christopher Miller had that honor for this year's games, and he did not take it for granted.

Rachel Lucas: "What did you do there with your pose?"

Christopher Miller: "I showed muscle."

It was a big moment for him and his coaches; a moment to shine like the stars they are and one they'll never forget.

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