In 2015, 6,500 athletes that represented 165 countries gathered in Los Angeles for the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games. Joy, acceptance, courage, determination, unity and inclusion were the central themes of the world's largest sports and humanitarian event of the year.
First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage to praise the athletes for their courage and determination, noting they were an example to the millions of people watching the Opening Ceremony in their living rooms.
"My husband and I, we are so proud of you, so incredibly proud of you, and we love you all from the bottom of our hearts," the First Lady said. "You are filling us with so much hope. Uniting us in a way that nothing else can."
Special Olympics Global Ambassador and NFL running back Jamaal Charles joined four Special Olympics athletes on stage. In a moment of reflection, he revealed the impact that Special Olympics had on him as a child.
“When I was ten years old, I had a chance to compete in Special Olympics,” said Charles, “That’s right – Special Olympics gave me my first chance to discover the talent that I did not know I had.”
Charles invited the crowd to join him in the Special Olympics athlete oath: Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.
At the same site as the 1934 and 1984 Olympic Games, nearly 62,000 family and fans in the stands at the Los Angeles Coliseum witnessed an inspiring show, broadcast live worldwide by ESPN.
Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver energized the crowd and called on people with and without intellectual disabilities to come together and create more inclusive world for all, saying, “This is your moment. This is our time. The wind is at your backs. You look everywhere and see nothing but the beauty in the world. How lucky we are to be with you."