Special Olympics Iowa underway in Dubuque

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The 31st annual Special Olympics Iowa Winter Games kicked off at the Grand River Center in Dubuque on Monday.

Stuart Brown lights the Olympic torch to open the 31st annual Special Olympics Iowa Winter Games at the Grand River Center in Dubuque on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. (Katie Wiedemann/KCRG-TV9)

As Special Olympic Athlete Stuart Brown made his way through the crowd, he felt the warmth that comes with lighting the ceremonial Olympic torch. This is his moment.

"That's the biggest thing right now," said Brown.

Brown and hundreds of other athletes are here to revel in that moment and to win a medal or two.

"I hope I, I hope I get a medal," said Gary Sander.

"I'm going to win gold medals. I am going to win gold medals," said Joe Soy.

While in Dubuque to compete, the athletes like to let loose and enjoy themselves.

"I just like to have fun. I've been doing this for a long time, Special Olympics," said Mack Torres.

The opening night dance party is often the highlight of the games.

"You get to hear the base and the keyboard and the instruments," said Emerson Crow.

Richard Vetter, 88, has been competing in the Special Olympics since 1970.

"Because I like it. I like it very much," said Vetter.