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Get Ready... the Games are Coming!

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RALEIGH — The countdown continues; in just 78 days, the biggest sporting event in the world will be underway in North Carolina.

You have been hearing about theSpecial Olympics World Summer Games, but what can you expect when they finally come to the Triangle?

Flash back to 1995 and the last Special Olympics World Summer Games in New Haven, Conn.

The spectacular opening ceremonies with celebrities and dignitaries from around the world are just a taste of what is to come when the Triangle hosts the 1999 World Games in June.

It will be bigger than any event North Carolina has ever seen, including the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1987.

"There were 3,400 athletes in the Olympic Festival and they were from one country -- the U.S. Now, it's 7,000 athletes from 150 countries," says World Games CEO Joe Freddoso.

And when those athletes arrive, you will have plenty of opportunities to watch them.

Most of the competition will be held at N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill, with a few sports sprinkled at other locations.

In keeping with Special Olympics tradition, tickets to see any of the 19 sports are free.

If you can't make it to the competition, chances are, you will see highlights. More than 2,000 media representatives from around the world will be here to cover the games.

People who have been to World Games in the past say people in North Carolina will only really understand the significance of this event when it is here. And they say the significance does not just come in size; it also comes with the feeling you get inside.

"I couldn't really put in words how it felt. It was a lifetime peak experience," says volunteer Liz Rubin.

Liz Rubin is helping World Games organizers get ready for June. She has volunteered at two games already and says she has been bitten by the Special Olympics bug. Her guess is that the epidemic will spread this summer.

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

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