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"Flame of Hope" Arrives in U.S; Making Its Way to N.C.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The "Flame of Hope" is on American soil and on its way to North Carolina. Law enforcement officers from around the world delivered the Special Olympics flame to Washington, D.C. Friday.

The Flame of Hope's arrival signals the beginning of a week that will culminate in the biggest sporting event ever held in North Carolina -- the1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

On May 14,the flame was litin Athens, Greece in the ancient Olympic tradition. Overseas, it flickered in a protective lantern. Friday, it motored down the Potomac River.

The torch arrived at the Capital Friday morning. North Carolina Special Olympics athlete Billy Quick, who was in Athens for the torch lighting, was also on hand to see it arrive in the United States.

Quick is excited now that the flame is closer to its final destination.

"North Carolina's ready," says Quick, a marathon runner. "I understand we've raised all of our money and we have 35,000 volunteers. Hopefully, if we can get a great turnout, we'll be very happy."

After a visit to Arlington, Va., the flame will ride a Coast Guard cutter bound for Wilmington.

That is where a team of North Carolina law enforcement officers will run with the torch, ready to be welcomed in communities across the state.

"So we are ambassadors to get out there to the far corners of the state, to tell people about the Special Olympics and about the World Summer Games," says Mike Teem, N.C. Torch Run chairperson. " To get people to know what's going on and, hopefully, to get some of them to come to Raleigh to watch some of the competition."

The torch will be run through 100 different North Carolina cities, towns and crossroad communities. Its trip will end at Carter-Finley Stadium on June 26 for a dramatic ceremony that may even outshine opening ceremonies held in New Haven, Conn. four years ago.

The flame is due to arrive in Wilmington on Monday, June 21. Ceremonies will be held on the Battleship North Carolina.

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Rick Armstrong, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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