CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of athletes and their coaches marched into Soldier Field on Tuesday for the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics Chicago spring games.

WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports sunshine and cheers greeted the participants as they gathered for the start of Special Olympics Chicago’s 46th annual Spring Games.

They marched into the stadium carrying banners bearing the names of their schools or parks, just like Olympic athletes. Approximately 3,000 athletes are playing in the Spring Games across the state.

Among the athletes walking on the grass at Soldier Field was Keith Tyler, who was competing for Kosciuszko Park.

“This is awesome. I love it,” he said.

Tyler also competed in last year’s games, “and I did really well,” he said.

While the Special Olympics athletes have learning or physical disabilities, many are still fierce competitors,

“The best part is to win a gold trophy,” said an athlete named Miguel.

In Chicago, games like track and field, softball, and basketball start Wednesday and continue through Friday at Eckersall Park at 2423 E. 82nd St.

One mother said her daughter loves competing in the games, but loves even more the new friends she makes.

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