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Volunteers Critical to Success of Special Olympics World Games

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RALEIGH — Imagine inviting tens of thousands of people from around the world for a summertime visit That's the kind of crowd that's expected to travel to the Triangle for the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

It may sound like its a long way off, but as WRAL's Tracy Wilson explains, there's a lot of work to be done to get ready for this huge event.

On a typical day, you'll find Willie Mae Cox fielding calls and filing reports. You'd think her full-time job and three children would leave her with no time to volunteer... but that's not the case. Willie Mae is one of what will be many Special Olympics World Games volunteers.

In all, it'll take 35,000 people to be on deck when the athletes compete in the Special Olympics premiere event. With only 70 paid staffers, volunteers are critical. The games will rely on all kinds of people with all kinds of skills... like Willie Mae who's working on the track and field events.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."I'm looking forward to a good experience.. to putting what I have learned from officiating and smaller meets to the test."Some volunteers are already at work, others will start much later. All of them will have a lot to do, but games organizer Mary Steele Nicholson says the payoff will be big!

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."Think about it. We're welcoming the world to North Carolina -- 7000 athletes from 150 countries. They're coming to experience North Carolina. We're rolling out the welcome mat and our volunteers are gonna have a great time doing that."Willie Mae Cox is already a believer and she says by the time the games arrive, a lot of other folks will be too."Try it.. try it and once they try it, they'll probably volunteer for the rest of their lives."

The 1999 Special Olympics World Games needs volunteers now. You can pick up your application at Triangle-area NationsBank banking centers or Lowes Home Improvement Warehouses.

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Tracey Wilson, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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