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      Time Trials kick off Opening Day at the 2014 Michigan Special Olympics

      It was an important day for athletes gathered in Traverse City Wednesday. With almost 900 athletes, this is the biggest Michigan Special Olympics in seven years.

      Time Trials were held Wednesday at Howe Ice Arena, Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek, and the Grand Traverse Resort for snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, figure skating, and speed skating.

      The athletes will be matched up for competition on Thursday and Friday based on their times Wednesday - and they all say no matter what they couldn't be happier to be here.

      "Because it's fun, because I want to be with my friends," said Lindon Parson, a speed skater.

      "This is my favorite - especially these people, and I appreciate all they have done for me," stated Karol Evangelides, a snowshoer. "I do appreciate the fact we're all together as a group - makes me happy."

      Most of the athletes weren't nervous, just very excited.

      Wednesday afternoon also included the arrival of the Wertz Warriors - a group of nearly 100 snowmobile riders who travel from Clinton Twp. to Petoskey to raise money for Special Olympics Michigan (a 900-mile ride spread over a week). The Warriors come into town and spend the afternoon giving snowmobile rides to the athletes.

      The Opening Ceremonies start Wednesday at 7:30pm. The Special Olympics continue through Friday, and the public is asked to come and cheer the athletes on!