Michelle Obama kicks off Special Olympics

First Lady Michelle Obama laughs with former Special Olympic athlete Tim Harris before she declares the 2015 Special Olympics World Games open, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday

Story highlights

  • Michelle Obama welcomes competitors
  • President Obama greets with video message

(CNN)First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles on Saturday, welcoming thousands of intellectually disabled athletes.

"To all of our athletes, I just want you to know that all those people won't just be cheering for you, they're going to be learning from you," the first lady told the cheering crowd during the opening ceremony. "You're filling us with so much hope. And you're uniting us in a way that nothing else can."
The roughly 6,500 athletes traveled to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 165 countries.
    "I want you all to know that my husband and I, we are so proud of all of you, so incredibly proud of you," Michelle Obama said. "And we love you all from the bottom of our hearts."
    President Obama, who is currently traveling in Africa, greeted the athletes on a taped video.
    "Where some see limitation, you see opportunity. You represent the very best of the hunman spirit," said president.
    The athletes will participate in 25 sports during the nine-day competition.