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Special Olympics Athletes Arrive, Opening Ceremonies Announced

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RALEIGH — Some big name celebrities are coming to the Triangle for theSpecial Olympics World Summer Games, including comedian and actor Billy Crystal, who is expected to host the Games' Opening Ceremonies.

Crystal will be joined by alternative singer Sugar Ray, Detroit Pistons basketball star Grant Hill and gospel singer Kirk Franklin.

That is exciting news to the Special Olympics athletes who are beginning to arrive in town.

Big smiles and handshakes greeted track and field athletes from the west African nation of Gambia, as they arrived atRDU InternationalTuesday.

"The idea is to get the...special children that we have to fraternize with the other people and that's the world games -- to bring friendship, to break barriers," says Fred Lloid Evans, delegation leader.

While the athletes continue to make their way to the Triangle, authorities are setting up new technology to make sure no one gets lost during the World Games.

The technology inside rescue trucks is set up to help in search operations, operations officials say will represent 75 percent of their emergency calls.

Thermal imaging, night vision, computer mapping and satellite tracking are all part of the process.

Rescue Crew Member David Pease describes how it works. "If they find a clue, we can mark it on the map using the GPS coordinates, and know exactly where they found certain clues, which is going to give us areas of higher probability of where folks may have gotten lost."

Getting separated is the last thing on athletes' minds, though. They say the World Games are all about bringing cultures together.

The World Games begin on June 26 with opening ceremonies at Carter-Finley Stadium and run through July 4. Watch for complete coverage on WRAL-TV, your official World Games television station.

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Ericka Lewis, Reporter
Ron Pittman, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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