Music and entertainment filled the Bob Devaney Center Sunday afternoon during the official kick-off to the USA National Games.
State by state, Special Olympics athletes entered the Bob Devaney Center to the roar of thousands of family and fans. The state with the loudest cheers by far was Nebraska.
Three thousand, six hundred athletes from 47 states cheered their way through performances by Rachel McClusky and the national anthem sung by recording artist Sandi Patti.
Actress and model Brooklyn Decker and actor Eddie Barbanell hosted the ceremonies.
The entertainment continued with performances by Jars of Clay and American Idol season 8 finalist, Michael Sarver.
Runners completed the 9-day journey of the Special Olympics flame with a ceremonial lighting of the torch to officially begin the games.
But not before guests remembered the woman who started the organization decades ago: Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Her son, Tim Shriver, who took over his mother’s legacy spoke of the woman his mother was and urged to continue the fight for acceptance. “We leave this ceremony determined to change not just Lincoln, not just to teach Nebraska but to change this country until the day when there is every opportunity for every person no matter their different abilities to compete to play on the playing field and in life.”
Strong words coming from the son of the woman whose vision led all these athletes here.