07/31/2014 08:57 EDT | Updated 09/30/2014 05:59 EDT

At White House celebration, Obama says Special Olympics represent values that all can embrace

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama says the Special Olympics and its athletes represent values like pride, dignity and teamwork that offer lessons for all people.

Obama is marking the 46th anniversary of the Special Olympics with a dinner and celebration at the White House. He's praising athletes who have gone on to contribute to their communities in various ways after competing in the Special Olympics.

Professional athletes, A-list celebrities and singers like Stevie Wonder and Katy Perry are gathering in a specially decorated East Room for the occasion. Perry plans to perform later in the evening.

Obama says the Special Olympics has touched so many people's lives.

The Special Olympics includes more than 4 million athletes from around the world and features about 80,000 events per year.