RALEIGH — If you talk with anyone involved with the Special Olympics, they will tell you this week has been like no other.
It's been full of memories for volunteers, coaches, and of course the athletes. It's been a time of inspiration, passion, and legacy.
It is hard to believe that in just two days, the World Games will come to an end, but that does not mean the end of Special Olympics. In fact, this is like a new beginning here in the Triangle.
The World Games have brought quite a following to Special Olympics including 35,000 volunteers and dozens of sponsors. This is a first-time Special Olympics experience for many of them, but it probably will not be their last.
"This is my first day doing it, and I wish that I had more days and more chance to do different events and different venues," said volunteer Lisa Martin.
Many of the volunteers say they want to continue volunteering, and some sponsors, like Interpath, have already signed on to continue their support at the state level saying it has been great for morale.
"I think it tends to make us forget some of the day to day meetings and internal bickering that we might be doing at the company level," said Rich Cain, vice president of marketing, "and showing what it's all about, and what working together can do for a company."
Keith Fishburne, president of Special Olympics North Carolina, says with more volunteers and more sponsors, there is just one more thing they need, more athletes.
"We've got an initiative right now and we're trying to recruit 1,000 new athletes a year for the next 10 years," he said. "By the end of the year, we hope to look at that and see more than 1,000 athletes."
It is a lofty goal, but if there is one thing that most everyone has learned during these World Games, it is that most anything is possible.
There are numerous ways to stay involved with Special Olympics at the county and state level. Anyone interested can call your state Special Olympics office. In North Carolina, the phone number is(919) 719-7662.