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A 'Special' Performance Kicks Off Volunteer Effort

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CARY — Amy Grant sent a musical message toSAS Instituteemployees Tuesday: get involved in work that matters.

Grant is one of the hottest musicians in the business. she was joined by Michael W. Smith, who is also lighting up the charts. Both sang in Cary to help SAS begin its World Special Olympics volunteer campaign.

The two usually sing before sell-out crowds of thousands. Tuesday's appearance was more intimate, for a crowd of 400.

The informal concert was a call for volunteers to help make the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games a success.

"We need, believe it or not, 35,000 volunteers to help us put these games on -- for what we know will be the very best [games] ever," said Dr. LeRoy Walker, president of the Special Olympics World Summer Games Organizing Committee.

The singers were happy to help. "What Michael and I are trying to do singing for people today," Grant says, "is trying to jump start a feeling among the people here in North Carolina, of feeling very connected to this event, knowing that the rewards that people will get from this personally are going to be so much more inspiring than anything they can anticipate."

Smith performed at the opening of the 1995 World Games in Connecticut. He describes the experience as "one incredible memory that I have at the Yale Bowl with these athletes... I've never given more high fives and more hugs in my life."

Special Olympics athlete Ashley Pittman joined in on one of Smith's most popular songs and the crowd could see more high fives, hugs and tears coming.

The 1999 Special Olympics World Games begin June 6 and end on the 4th of July.

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Julie Moos, Web Editor

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