The 34th annual Special Olympics kicked off Thursday.
Members from Dothan Police Department began the event with a torch run from Miracle Field at Westgate to Dothan High School.
This is TJ Whaley's 8th year at the Special Olympics.
His mentor of two years, Angelo Copeland says it's a nice change of pace from the average day. "It helps him just to come out, have fun and enjoy the setting, seeing new people, new faces; it helps him relax," he says.
Special needs children and adults made it to Dothan High School carrying banners and full of excitement.
They began the day’s activities standing in line, waving to friends and family.
Special Education Aid Shelly Brady, at Kelly Springs Elementary said, "Giving them a self-esteem boost is wonderful. They love to [be] appreciated and they love to feel like they are winners, so this is wonderful."
Some parents say events like these and enjoying the weather and just tossing a ball is a great way to forget some of the harsh circumstances.
Parent Geri Williams said, “It is nice to have a support system under casual circumstances instead of hospitals and those kind of things; a venue that we can all be together.”
Besides ice cream, fist pumping and high fives are some of 7-year-old Will Williams’ favorite things to do.
This is the first year he and his mom have attended the Special Olympics.
For Will, Williams says these activities are more than a recreation. “It helps him the most being stimulated with different activities and getting involved in the community,” she said.
And for kids, recreation is all it's about.
A moment of silence and the releasing of a balloon were also held on Thursday, in memory of Daniel Mitchell, a former Special Olympian.