Special Olympics officially under way at Penn State University Park

The opening ceremonies for this year's Pennsylvania Special Olympics were moved indoors due to the threat of thunderstorms, but that didn't dampen the spirits of the athletes, families, volunteers and fans in attendance. The event attracted a full house of Special Olympics athletes, their families, volunteers and fans to Penn State's Multisport Complex.

Penn State President Graham B. Spanier welcomed the crowd, saying, "We are deeply honored and very excited to have all of you here with us for the next few days. We are very proud of all the athletes who are here participating in this event. We extend to you a special welcome, along with all of your parents, friends, relatives, and the many volunteers who are here supporting you. This is one of the great events in the life of this University every year, and we look forward to having you here in our community."

When Lady Lion basketball coach Coquese Washington, honorary chairwoman of the games, addressed the crowd, she said, "I've been around a lot of world-class athletes over my lifetime, but one of my favorite athletes in the whole world is sitting right out here with you. Her name is Jennifer. When I took this job last year, Jennifer came up to me, and she said, 'Coach, I've got to practice. I want to win a medal at the state games.' So when we had practice with the team, Jennifer would be down there, working on her shots. And I know, just like Jennifer, all of you have worked really hard over the past few months. And now, this weekend is your time to shine."

Billy Hinglebrok from Erie County lit the Special Olympics torch to officially open the 2008 Summer Games.

For photos of the opening ceremonies, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/1720 and for photos from the first day of competition, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/1719 online.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010