TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Athletes of many ages from across the state are competing today in the state’s Special Olympics at Canyon Ridge High School and City Pool.

The games kicked off Friday evening with opening ceremonies, emceed by local meteorologist Brian Neudorff.

If you’re feeling a little down in your life then you should come to the games on Saturday and you’ll be uplifted, Laurie LaFollette, executive director of Special Olympics Idaho, told the audience.

“If you’re desperate to find a role model, come see these athletes,” she said. “The world needs the Special Olympics more than ever.”

Someone else who knows the games well echoed similar sentiments:

Special Olympics offer “the highest level of sportsmanship,” said Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, who came to town for the games. The Greek yogurt company is the main sponsor of the event.

The spirit the athletes induce at the games is one you can’t find anywhere else, he said, noting that he encourages everyone who can to come to the games. When you visit the Special Olympics, you become inspired.

"Hosting the Idaho games in Twin Falls,” Ulukaya said, “it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar also spoke during the ceremonies, welcoming the athletes and giving a nod to the volunteers who make the games happen. He said it’s an honor for the city to play host.

This is the second time Twin Falls has hosted the Special Olympics, but it won’t be the last. The games will return to the city next year.

Earlier on Friday community members, including police officers from Twin Falls, Eagle and Nampa joined the athletes in the annual Torch Run, which began at Idaho Joe’s restaurant and ended at the Twin Falls Visitor Center.

A flag ceremony and lighting of the Special Olympics torch followed the talks on Friday evening. After the games were announced to have officially begun, athletes were told to go home and rest so they would be ready for game day on Saturday.

The games are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, followed by closing ceremonies and a celebratory dance at the high school.

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