RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The torch was lit inside Reynolds Coliseum Friday as the Special Olympics of North Carolina Summer Games kicked off.
It's the first full event since 2019.
"I'm really excited, I'm going to do good and have a great time," said Rebecca Ryan of Raleigh who will be swimming this weekend
She's competed in these games since middle school.
"It means a lot to me and I meet like good friends and everybody," Ryan said.
More than 1000 volunteers helped set up this year's event. Governor Cooper helped open the games, and then law enforcement officers from across the state walked in with the flames lit before going up to the cauldron.
The mission of the Law Enforcement Torch Run is to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics movement.
"Special Olympics has given me so much I can never repay it," said Jacob Huffman of Gaston County, who won bronze in volleyball back in 2019. "I wouldn't trade this medal for anything."
More than 1300 athletes will compete across Wake County in a variety of events from swimming to basketball and bowling.
Thomas Tuck says it is his first year attending the games. He came with his 8-year-old son Merritt who is swimming.
"Being the parent of someone on the autism spectrum, you wonder what my child is going to excel at in life, there's the variable of the unknown but allowing them to find something they're passionate about, they're good at is part of the fun," he said.