2013 Special Olympics get started at Catholic University

More than 1,000 athletes were off to the races Monday as they began competing in the 2013 Summer Games, put on by the Special Olympics of the District of Columbia.

"There's no Lebron's no Kobe's...all the real athletes are here. They already made it, let's just focus on us," Woodson High School's Charles Barley said.

Barley's strongest sport is the shot put, but there's no picking favorites for this iron man.

"[I like] all of them, all of them, first place," Barley said. "The best part of it is everybody comes together and starts playing."

Whether they earned a gold medal or just a smile to show for their efforts, all of the athletes agreed is about one thing.

"It felt like it was just fun to do it," Special Olympian Dayona Walker said.

The three-day event isn't just for the athletes participating. Volunteers like Robert Beard, who was paralyzed for six months with rheumatoid arthritis, get just as much enjoyment.

"It really makes me appreciate life," Beard said. "Everyone is a winner. You have gold and silver, but everyone is a winner."

The Special Olympics run through Thursday at Catholic University and include competition in track and field, motor activities, soccer and bocce.