It is estimated that 2,750 athletes and coaches from 80 countries will participate in the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Anchorage in March. Due to the immensity of the event held March 4 through 11, Special Olympics is recruiting volunteers to assist in helping at the games.
Kathy Day, manager of Media Relations for the games, said an additional 7,000 family members, coaches, volunteers and supporters are expected to attend the games.
According to the Special Olympics Web site, the global organization provides sports training and competition to more than 1 million people with disabilities in 150 countries. The Special Olympics World Winter Games will be the largest international sporting event ever to be staged in Alaska.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics in 1968. Shriver, along with her brother John F. Kennedy, launched a crusade to change the way the world treated -- or ignored -- people with mental disabilities.
Athletes will participate in seven different sporting events that will take place in Anchorage, Eagle River and Girdwood.
Day said the organization is hoping to recruit 5,000 volunteers to help in various events at the games.
"We are looking for any type of volunteer," Day said.
Special Olympics is especially seeking volunteers to assist as interpreters for the duration of the stay of delegations speaking one of the 29 languages spoken by the athletes.
Interpreters also are needed solely during sporting events and in assisting media.
Day said it is necessary for those interested in volunteering for the games to register as soon as possible.
"February will be too late," she said.
Those interested can call (907) 277-2497 or visit the organization's home page on the World Wide Web at www.2001worldgames.org and click on volunteers to get a registration form.
Volunteers also are needed to assist area athletes (See related story, page A-1). For more information, call the Central Peninsula Special Olympics at 260-3364.
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