West Virginia University will launch the 2000 West Virginia Special Olympics Summer Games with an exciting treat for athletes, volunteers and community members alike a fireworks display. The opening ceremony, which has the theme”Now is the Time,”begins at 8 p.m. Friday, June 9, at Mountaineer Field.

Approximately 1,000 athletes from around the state and hundreds of volunteers will converge on Mountaineer Field to begin the 32nd Special Olympics Summer Games.

In addition to the fireworks display that follows the ceremony, the evening will include the traditional parade of athletes and lighting of the Flame of Hope.

A specially chosen athlete and state trooper will run the torch into the stadium. A line-up of guest speakers and community members, including singer Bobby Nicholas, also will welcome participants.

Community involvement in Special Olympics activities, including opening ceremonies, is crucial to the success of the games as well as a rewarding and fun experience for the entire family, said Jennifer Fisher, assistant to WVU ’s chief of staff and avid volunteer.

“We really want the community to come out and welcome the athletes,”she said.”Its really special to see the looks on the athletes faces when they come out of the tunnel and see the crowd cheering for them. We want to have as many people as we can in those stands.”

This is the first year opening ceremonies will take place at Mountaineer Field, which also provides the perfect venue for the ceremonys first fireworks show.

“Mountaineer Field will be another exciting venue for the athletes. Theyve experienced the thrill of parading onto the Coliseum floor, so I feel certain the stadium will be a huge thrill as well,”commented Deborah Fusco, assistant to the vice president for Institutional Advancement, one of the main event organizers and volunteers.

While some games begin on Friday, most will take place throughout the day on Saturday. A special awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, from 9-11:45 a.m. near the Coliseum, followed by closing ceremonies at the WVU outdoor track.

Those interested in volunteering can either call the special toll-free hotline at 1-888-988-2269. ””:"../index.html