Special Olympics starts with a bang

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – It started with a high five.

Folks from all over the Wabash Valley lent a hand to help try to break a world record with the longest high five line.

That’s just one example of the festivities of Special Olympics Indiana opening ceremonies.

“This is an extra-special event where we honor the athletes, the coaches, the volunteers, but we also have quite a lot of fun,” said Paula Meyer, Indiana State University. “It’s probably the highlight of the summer for all of these athletes and their families. They love coming to Terre Haute, they love coming to campus, but the thing they look forward to the most is opening ceremonies.”

Once the thousands were inside the Hulman Center, Terre Haute native and Olympic gold medalist, Dr. Greg Bell, demonstrated just how long that long jump really was back in the 70s.

But it’s not all fun and games.

This is a serious competition for those 85 team members, the ones throwing their hearts into these summer games.

“These athletes train an entire year to come here and to compete. Whether they’re winning a gold medal, a silver medal, a bronze medal, it doesn’t matter. It’s the fact they’re here, they’re together and they’re competing,” said Meyer.

But it’s about more than competing, it’s about the taste of achievement.

“They’ve had intensive training sessions on top of their training for their regular competitions. It’s a feat of accomplishment for when they get here,” said Meyer.

And these opening ceremonies are just the start to what many see as a magical weekend.

2,600 athletes are here for the summer games this year.

They run through noon on Sunday.

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