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Behind the Scenes at the Special Olympics

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The AmeriCorp group is training for the 1999 Special Olympics World Games.
RALEIGH — The athletes are not the only ones training at this year's Special Olympics in Raleigh. An AmeriCorp group is preparing for the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

When Teresa Freudig joined AmeriCorps' National Civilian Community Corps, the last thing she expected to do is work behind the scenes of what will be the biggest sporting event in the world next year.

She and others in this national service program usually work on environmental projects or help with disaster recovery. There current mission is to help prepare for the 1999 Olympics, and this weekend's test event, the state level Special Olympics competition.

Staffers said that the corps' help is essential.

"Not only are they helping us with our long range plans so we'll be ready for the games, but we can also say can you come and do x, y, and z 24 hours prior to an event and they're right there ready to do it," Vice President of Volunteer Services Mary Steele-Nicholson said. "We're just thrilled."

About half of those working in the National Civilian Community Corps have college degrees, and are earning money to pay for their education.

Scott Harder, who has a Masters degree, said that he has more to learn, and much of it from athletes with mental retardation.

"It's been a joy being able to work with some of them," Harder said. "I think from them I've seen in my life I should be more determined and motivated to accomplish my goals because they're accomplishing theirs."

The experience has been so enjoyable that many of the corps members said they will be back to work with the 35,000 volunteers who will make the Games happen next year.

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Tracey Wilson, Reporter
Joe Frieda, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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