The Flame of Hope for the 2019 Special Olympic B.C. Winter Games. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

The Special Olympics kicked off Thursday night with an action-packed opening ceremony at Kal Tire Place.

At 7:30 p.m. athletes took the stage for the first time of the weekend.

The teams represent the eight sport regions of B.C. as well as the Yukon. They are also joined by Special Olympics Alberta’s provincial cross country skiing competitors, who were not able to participate in the 2019 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games due to lack of snow. Competing this weekend will allow the Albertan skiers to compete in a qualifier for the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.

The highlight of the Opening Ceremony was the teams walking into the stadium with pride — this included more than 800 athletes, coaches, and mission staff who will be representing the eight sport regions of B.C. and the Yukon throughout Friday and Saturday.

They were also joined by dignitaries including Games Honorary Coach Orland Kurtenbach, the Vancouver Canucks’ first captain.

View our Facebook Live showing them enter the stadium:

READ MORE: Special Olympics B.C. Games torch made in Vernon

READ MORE: Meet Vernon Special Olympics hometown heroes

Members of the École Beairsto Elementary choir, La chorale de Beairsto sang the national anthem; they sang Oh Canada in both English and French.

DJ PK also pumped up the athletes with upbeat tunes, causing many of the competitors to get up off their seats and dance in the aisles.

Several speeches about the meaning of sport and thanking all those involved — everyone from the athletes to volunteers — was offered by officials, who also wished the athletes luck as they participate in their events this weekend.

The ceremony concluded with Law Enforcement Torch Run members bearing in the Flame of Hope, alongside a Special Olympics athlete, who lit the brand-new Special Olympics B.C. cauldron. The cauldron represents the legacy of these Games — SOBC has never before had its own cauldron to keep and endure from Games to Games, and will be a great legacy from Greater Vernon.

Follow us throughout Friday and Saturday to keep up with the events.

To view the full schedule of events slated for Friday and Saturday, click here.

READ MORE: Vernon set to fill the stands for Special Olympics

READ MORE: What is Special Olympics?

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Students in the École Beairsto Elementary choir sang the national anthem in French and English for the opening ceremony. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

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