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International Torch Close to Local Destination

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WILMINGTON — From Athens, Greece, the torch designated the Flame of Hope is making its way to Raleigh's Carter-Finley Stadium. It will light the cauldron when the1999 Special Olympics World Summer Gamesopen next Saturday.

One of the world's best-known athletic symbols, the torch began its journey May 13, when it was lit at a ceremony in Greece. It arrived on American shores in Washington, D.C.

From there it was shifted to a Coast Guard cutter, then to a Marine helicopter and from there to another special ceremony -- this one on the Battleship North Carolina, which is moored in Wilmington.

Law enforcement officers from around the world were in Wilmington today, to carry it in a run along city streets.

Over the coming week, the torch will be run across the state of North Carolina, linking 64 cities and towns in Special Olympics' celebrations.

Mike Wilkie, one of the torchbearers, said the intention is to "set everyone on fire" about what is done on behalf of the Special Olympics' athletes.

Saturday night the Flame of Hope will be in Raleigh. In the opening ceremonies for the competitions at Carter-Finley Stadium, the torch will light the cauldron that will burn for the duration of the games.

Today brought more Special Olympics' news: Stevie Wonder will be on hand at the opening ceremonies. He will join a raft of celebrities, including Billy Crystal.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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