PHOTOS: Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony In Los Angeles

Playing a sport is a powerful thing.

For people with intellectual disabilities, it can change the perspective from disability to ability, and from isolation to involvement.

This is why the Special Olympics World Games 2015 is such an incredible experience for thousands of athletes to participate in and for spectators to witness.

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These people began life being told they’ll never walk, talk or do anything — and suddenly they are on a world stage as a triathlete finding a new confidence and source of fulfillment.

It’s the most inclusive place to be in the world, and despite the long lines and hot weather, my experience Saturday at the Opening Ceremony in Los Angeles was nothing but happy.

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Approximately 6,500 athletes from 165 countries marched into the Memorial Coliseum to cheers, cameras and eyes wide with wonder.

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It was the largest gathering of athletes in Los Angeles since the 1984 Summer Olympics.

These athletes will participate in 25 sports over nine days, ranging from weightlifting to the triathlon.

First Lady Michelle Obama gave the opening message, followed by performances by Avril Lavigne, Stevie Wonder and more.

“My husband and I, we are so proud of you, so incredibly proud of you, and we love you all from the bottom of our hearts,” the first lady said.

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She said the athletes were an example to the millions of people watching the event on television. Earlier, President Barack Obama welcomed the athletes by video.

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As each country followed the ESPN cameras down the red carpet to their seats, chanting and singing — including a tiny contingent from Afghanistan — you couldn’t help but smile.

Just because our capacity is not as great as another, it doesn’t mean that we cannot still achieve greatness in our own way.

True inspiration!

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Here are all the photos I took July 25 at the Special Olympics Blue Carpet event and Opening Ceremony:

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