Local News

State Summer Games Offers Special Olympics Athletes a Chance to Shine

Posted Updated
Switch to classic wral.com

RALEIGH — This weekend will be a winning one for 1,500 remarkable athletes and their fans as the North Carolina Special Olympics Summer Games begin.

Organizers say the state Summer Games will live up to the excitement generated during last summer's World Games.

"People remember what they experienced during the World Games," says president Keith Fishburne.

Those memories may lead to the most successful state games in history. The response for volunteers was so overwhelming, organizers had to turn people away.

"That's unusual for us," Fishburne says, "because we're usually recruiting volunteers up until about the week of the games."

Organizers say many of the people who wanted to volunteer but could not can give their time in another way -- by sitting in the stands as spectators. Venues for the Games include Paul Deer Track, Carmichael and Witherspoon Gymnasiums at N.C. State University, Pullen Aquatics Center and the Walnut Creek Softball Complex.

"The importance of these games are the same as the World Games," Fishburne says. "This is the ultimate competition for the athletes for this year in North Carolina."

More than $2 million was raised by last summer's World Games, half of which went to Special Olympics of North Carolina.

"We are not going to use them for operating expenses," Fishburne "It is going to allow us to do some long-range strategic planning for the growth of the Special Olympics movement in the state. We have not have that luxury."

Fishburne also says one of the options for the money is an endowment that could fund local programs statewide. At least $100,000 of the money will be used right now for counties whose fund-raising efforts were stalled by Hurricane Dennis, Floyd and Irene.