TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – The 2016 Special Olympics Idaho is official underway.

Opening ceremonies were held at Friday evening at Canyon Ridge High School, where athletic teams from across the state were welcomed.

“Thank you for sharing your courage and joy with us,” Mayor Shawn Barigar told the athletes after the torch run at the school’s outdoor stadium, where each was presented. Audience members stood sat in the bleachers or stood on the sidelines to cheer.

One athlete, Brandon Ballard from the Twin Falls Tators, recited the Special Olympics motto:

Let me win. But if I cannot win,
let me be brave in the attempt.

Nancy Swain, one of the Tators’ coaches, told News Radio 1310 that she is excited to see the athletes compete. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter.

“I don’t care if they win or lose, and neither do they,” she said, noting each of the athletes has been practicing “very hard” over the past several months. “They are just excited to be recognized.”

The team has athletes from age 8 to 78.

Games on Saturday begin at 9 a.m. at the school – and aquatics events at the YMCA/Twin Falls City Pool – and include basketball, cycling, power lifting, and track and field. Closing ceremonies will be held at 7 p.m. at Canyon Ridge.

“It’s awesome, it’s so much fun,” said John Pauley, an aquatics coach for the Tators. This is the first time the team is competing in aquatics, he said. Six members are on the swim team. They started training in March and will compete with more than 100 other athletes from across the state.

Laurie La Follette, executive director of Special Olympics Idaho, told the athletes that they are her heroes. She recently lost her husband due to Alzheimer’s disease.

“But the thing that gets me up in the morning is you guys, my athletes,” she said. “I love each and every one of you. You are my role models.”