BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Joe Flacco and Dennis Pitta took some time away from the field Tuesday morning and headed to Towson University.

They were meeting some other accomplished athletes from Special Olympics Maryland at the Breakfast With Champions event.

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The athletes greeted them with cheers, and by handing out their own trading cards.

Some of them also got pictures with their heroes.

“This is a lot of fun,” Flacco told WJZ. “I’ve been doing it for a handful of years now. I’ve been surrounded by these athletes and see a bunch of familiar faces. They’re always having a bunch of fun and it’s just cool they kind of let me in their group.”

“It definitely opens you up to different things,” he continued. “You see a different side of these athletes. You see a lot what these guys go through in your kids. It’s just a cool experience to come out here and interact with them and get to hang out with them.”

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“We look up to them in so many ways,” said Pitta. “I think we can draw a lot of inspiration from what they go through and from what they accomplish. We feel fortunate to be part of this.”

Jim Schmutz says, in addition to the Special Olympics athletes being able to meet their idols, the visits also help raise awareness for the group.

“This is a great way to bring our athletes to the community. We have to generate more awareness. There’s 115,000 people in the state with intellectual disabilities. Our goal by 2525 is to have 20,000 athletes, three times as many as we have now. Events like this help us bring attention to who our athletes are.”

Three of the Special Olympics Maryland athletes of the 18 in attendance at the event will represent the state and the U.S. at the World Winter Games in Austria in March.

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