Anchorage, Alaska — Friday night, three Special Olympics athletes received an Alaskan send-off, hours before boarding a plane, headed overseas. Christopher Cavanaugh of Kodiak, Jan Pendleton of Anchorage, and Melissa Adams of Wasilla, are part of Team USA and will join more than 7,000 Special Olympic athletes from around the globe for the 2011 Special Olympics Summer World Games in Athens, Greece.
Unrest and uncertainty surrounding Greece's economy had some concerned about how it could affect the World Games. However, Special Olympics officials said Friday that Greece's government made an agreement with labor unions, negotiating a no-strike and no-protest time period that should continue through the end of the Special Olympic Games.
"It's the same agreement they came to in 2004 with the Summer Olympics and there weren't really any issues that happened during the 2004 Olympics. We're anticipating that everything will go smoothly for the Special Olympics World Games," said Sarah Arts, with Special Olympics Alaska.
The country can likely expect an economic boost from the games, since thousands of athletes, families and Special Olympics fans planning on being in Athens for the event.
Opening ceremonies begin June 25 and the games last through July 4.