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Olympic Village a Temporary Home for Athletes & Families

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RALEIGH — Special Olympics athletes are in action at dozens of venues across the Triangle. While you can see the games for free, there are two places that are just for the athletes.

The athletes sleep, eat and interact with their families at three Olympic Villages in Raleigh in Chapel Hill.

Housing and feeding 10,000 athletes from around the world is a major undertaking. N./C. State, UNC-Chapel Hill and Meredith College are in charge of meeting their needs.

The food at N.C. State's cafeteria is getting rave reviews. Athletes are treated to four meals a day, including a late-night dinner. Six thousand ice cream cones are served daily.

Families are also taken care of on campus. Fifteen thousand relatives have accompanied the athletes to the games. At the Family Center they can meet, relax and clown around.

The Van Horn's traveled from Washington, D.C. to watch their nephew compete.

"This is our gathering place," says Maria Van Horn. "We come here, cool off a bit, go to another event and come back."

"Everybody is friendly around here. It' just nice to know that people will actually help you around," says Laura Van Horn.

People like Ricky Liles, who is an athleteanda volunteer in the Olympic Village. Liles says "It's a happy feeling" to help out.

All of the athletes are housed in dorms on the three campuses. Each floor has an ambassador to assist the teams.

"[We're] pretty much a catch-all -- anything that needs to be done on campus, we've been here to provide that service," says NCSU Ambassador Justine Hollingshead.

When Special Olympics athletes are not on the field or on the court, they need a place to unwind. Special Olympics has provided Olympic Town East at N.C. State University and Olympics Town West in Chapel Hill for their entertainment.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Joe Frieda, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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