Opening ceremonies held for Badger State Games 2019 Winter Games

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) --- The Badger State Winter Games kicked off its 30th season Thursday, bringing thousands of athletes to the Wausau area.

The Badger State Games is a tradition where athletes of any skill level and age can compete in Olympic-style events. This year, there will be 25 different winter sports events.

10,000 athletes from across the state will be coming to the Wausau area, and have the chance to win gold, silver or bronze medals.

"It's about getting off the couch, bring your family, bring your friends, create memories and go after medals. This is our 30th anniversary spinner medals that we have. So if you compete and you do medal, you qualify for the state games of America which is our national event that happens every two years," said Nick Ockwig, Event Director of the Badger State Games.

To kick off the games, the ceremonial torch was lit. Lighting it was Noah Eckelberg, a sophomore at Columbus Catholic High School in Marshfield.

Noah was born with spina bifida, and has undergone 19 surgeries at Marshfield Children's Hospital.

Noah loves sports, both playing and watching them. Because of his determination and success, he had the honor of lighting the torch, which was once used in the Olympics.

"To me it's more about Noah, and all of his difficulties and what he's overcome, and that he's still an athlete. He still competes. I'm super proud of that and I hope he is too of being part of the Badger State Opening Ceremonies and lighting the torch," said Ockwig.

"It's a great honor to be able to light the torch today. It means a lot that Badger State Games is allowing me to do this. It promotes the central Wisconsin area, and all the great activities that we have here, and it just helps promote our athletes that we have in Wisconsin," said Noah.

At the opening ceremonies, there were displays from previous years, including the first Winter State Games held in 1989.