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Special Olympics Shuttles Moving Well, Volunteers Running Short

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CHAPEL HILL — Almost 7,000 athletes from more than 150 countries are going for the gold at theSpecial Olympics World Games.

The spirit of competition has brought out thousands of Triangle volunteers and spectators, in addition to the 25,000 athletes, coaches and family members in town. The volunteers at the transportation depot on theUNCcampus have the huge responsibility of making sure all of the guests are in the right place at the right time.

Athletes and family members piled into vans Monday that took them to and from dorms, hotel rooms, and the UNC campus. An elaborate transportation system is shuttling thousands of people a day back and forth between competition, housing and dining locations.

"Our main focus is to take the athletes from their housing facilities, and to the venues for competition," says Trevor Halleran, the transportation director. "We also take them to practice, so there could be a few trips for each athlete per day."

There are hundreds of volunteers each day driving more than 200 vehicles from 5 a.m. until midnight at venues all over the Triangle.

The drivers cover a lot of ground, and that gives them an opportunity to get to know their passengers. Lew Margolis is one of the volunteers who keeps things running.

"It's great, I think it's great to have an opportunity to help people," he said. "It's great to provide hospitality to people from all over the world who have come to Chapel Hill and the Triangle."

Transportation organizers say they have more volunteers than they need at their venue, so they are going to expand and offer shuttle services to Franklin Street and other areas that athletes might want to visit.

However, there is a need for credentialed volunteers to work more shifts in other areas.

Some people who made a commitment to volunteer are not showing up, and some volunteers have complained that things are not as well-organized as they had hoped.

"At the beginning there was a little confusion, but I think as each day goes by it gets a little bit easier," says volunteer Alicia Wilson.

"We've had hundreds of volunteers calling us saying that they want to do more shifts," said Special Olympics organizer Mary Nicholson, "and that after doing two, three, or four shifts, they want to do more."

World Games organizers say they will not turn away any credentialed volunteers who want to come back to work more shifts.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Chad Flowers, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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