2012 State Summer Special Olympics kick off

The athletes paraded into Kelly/Shorts stadium at Central Michigan University, proudly sporting their local team colors, cheered on by community leaders and local law enforcement.

The 2012 State Summer Olympic Games kicked off Thursday night. Thousands of athletes will compete this weekend in ten sports including volleyball, swimming and bowling.

It took lots of hard work for them to get here.

"I have teammates that help me, I have a coach that helps me. We work together as a team,â?? volleyball player Jill Jones said.

Area 22 Director Joe Bronz says the games are a great way to build self-confidence and lasting friendships.

"They're so hyper right now they can't sit still,â?? Bronz said.

Our athletes were quick to make friends with the volunteers.

Jacob Walker put CMU football player Titus Davis on the spot, asking him about his favorite part of the Special Olympics.

â??Well, it's probably getting to see everyone compete,â?? Davis answered.

â??Getting to see how competitive everyone is. Me, myself, Iâ??m a competitive person, so I like to see people getting out doing what they love."

Opening ceremonies included a U.S. Coast Guard flyover and a rock band that got everyone on their feet, before concluding with the law enforcement torch relay.

The flames will burn all weekend as Michigan's special athletes go for the gold.

Stay with NBC25 for special coverage of the games Friday, Saturday and a special newscast at 11 p.m. Sunday.