Special Olympics return to New Jersey following pandemic hiatus
For the first time in three years, New Jersey is holding the Special Olympics.
The pandemic canceled the games the last two years.
Opening ceremonies took place Friday night at The College of New Jersey in Ewing.
About 1,500 athletes with disabilities gathered from all over the state.
"I'm looking forward to the happy faces of the athletes, seeing them competing, whether they win or not, just knowing that they're back and we're back for them too," said Olympics volunteer Bernie Olear.
The athletes will compete for medals in seven sports, including swimming and track and field.
Earlier in the day, torch runs happened across the Garden State to raise money for the Special Olympics.
One took place in Passaic, which consisted of firefighters, Passaic High School athletes and 14 athletes with disabilities.
"It allows them to be able to participate in all sorts of different sports and have a sense of community and achievement,” said Kimberly Ackerson, intellectual disabilities teacher at Passaic High School. “It's amazing to watch as they compete in these games... the pride and the camaraderie they have is like nothing else."