More than 400 athletes packed Ray Stadium Thursday morning for the Area 5 Special Olympics track and field meet.
Marines and volunteers from various civic organizations came out to make the day a success.
Three of the athletes have already been selected to compete at the national event in Iowa.
Organizers say the chance to participate is very important to those involved.
"You can just look around and see the smiles on their faces and how they're interacting with the Marines and everything, to see that they grow physically," said Fredna Cross, a member of the Special Olympics state board.
Due to Katrina, only seventeen of the athletes will be able to compete at the state event at Keesler Air Force Base.