ROANOKE (WSLS 10 SPORTS) - With the lighting of the torch and the declaration of the games open, it was officially underway.
Hundreds of student athletes along with their peer buddies from 27 schools and groups, came together for the Special Olympics Big Feet Meet at William Fleming High School. The annual track and field games gives children and adults with intellectual disabilities a chance to develop physical fitness while demonstrating courage.
"What we're doing is celebrating everybody's ability and their strength and their courage and so you know all of them will get a chance to compete in their events and it's actually the sports aspect of it that brings people together", said Nancy Morehouse.
William Fleming has been host of the games for six years having students and staff volunteers to help assist and cheer on the competitors. It's something school officials say benefits not only the athletes but the student body as well.
"It brings together our general education students with our special education students they get together they work together and they have a great time on this field", said William Fleming teacher Tina Bhandari.
The Big Feet Meet not only unifies students in sports, but it's also used as a catalyst in the classroom and beyond.
"Once they leave high school go out into the real world and they're all together in the real world so it's our job to make that transition as seamless as possible and give them all the skills and the communication techniques and the acceptance", said Jacque Banks. She's the Director of Special Education for Roanoke City Schools.
Although it's a competition, they're reminded on this day, that they're all champions.