It's an event founded in 1968 and their mission remains important today.

They aim to create a world that is more humane, friendly and accepts differences among people everywhere.

Athletes laced up their shoes this weekend to kick off the start of the Special Olympics and to get ready for the special weekend they ran with different law enforcement agencies through the streets of Southwest Virginia Saturday prepping for the big event.

Special Olympian Jerry Louthin says he can't wait for the games to begin.

“I do the 50 yard dash and softball throw,” says Louthin.

This is the second year in a row Jerry's helped carry the torch. He tells News 5 it takes a lot of practice to get ready for the event.

And to make the 28th annual Torch Run work it takes a lot of help. The Washington County, Virginia Sheriff's Department is one agency that looks forward to volunteer.

“It's been going on for a number of years,” says Sheriff Fred Newman. “It certainly represents our Special Olympics well. The athletes do a great job. I know it's a long way from here to Richmond but we do have several that actually participate in the events themselves.”

Sheriff Newman tells News 5 that events like these are important for fundraising and research.

“It makes people aware of Special Olympics and what our young special Olympians can do,” adds Newman.

Sammy Hagy from Chilhowie pretty much summed it up for everyone who showed up.

“It's just fun to watch,” says Hagy.

Athletes will participate in a number of events including the softball throw, 50 yard dash and a number of swimming events. You can cheer them on in Richmond beginning next Friday.

For information on being a volunteer, you can check out the Special Olympics website at http://specialolympicsva.org.