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NEW YORK — The 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games will host a benefit gala at Christie’s auction house in New York City to raise awareness and funding for the upcoming World Winter Games.

Proceeds from the April 12 event will help fund 2,500 athletes from 80 countries to be represented at the World Games in Nagano from Feb. 26-March 5, 2005.

The benefit will showcase support from U.S. and international celebrities such as Hideki Matsui, LeRoy Neiman, Walter Cronkite, Terumasa Hino and Mizue Sawano to help raise awareness for the Special Olympics global movement, bolster local Special Olympics Programs in the New York area and highlight the 2005 World Games.

An original painting of New York Yankees baseball star Hideki Matsui by LeRoy Neiman, as well as several other notable items, including Yankees memorabilia, will be auctioned off.

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