NORRISTOWN, Pa., Nov. 1, 2007 -- Special Olympics Pennsylvania and Villanova University have announced that four-time Olympian and three-time World Champion runner Marcus O’Sullivan will serve as Honorary Sports Chair at Opening Ceremonies at this year’s Fall Festival. Opening begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, and the Fall Festival runs through Sunday, Nov. 4 at Villanova University. Villanova Men’s Basketball Coach Jay Wright is slated to serve as keynote for the event’s Closing Ceremonies taking place at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4. Both ceremonies will be held at The Pavilion on Villanova’s campus.
Additional guests taking part in the 19th annual Festival at Villanova, include NBC 10’s John Clark and Jade McCarthy, singer/songwriter Jared Campbell who has performed with Jason Mraz and has written a song especially for SOPA athletes; and area business leaders John J. Swanick of SMART and Jack Killen of Sovereign Bank Mid-Atlantic. SMART, a business advisory and consulting firm, is serving as Fall Festival’s premier sponsor. Sovereign is serving as Opening Ceremonies sponsor. Robert Posner, president and CEO of NewDay Financial, which is sponsoring the third annual NewDay Award of Valor, will be speaking at the presentation of the award, slated for Saturday, Nov. 3 prior to the Victory Dance at 8:00 p.m. Closing Ceremonies is being sponsored by a group of construction/development companies.
“We are thrilled to welcome this roster of Delaware Valley A-listers to our Fall Festival,” said Janine Cesare, president of SOPA. “We are sincerely grateful to each one of these individuals who have taken time out of their busy schedules to touch the hearts of our athletes, volunteers and the community-at-large.”
Marcus O’Sullivan grew up in Cork City, Ireland. A runner in high school, O’Sullivan was not quite good enough to be awarded a scholarship in track and field for college when he graduated, so he joined the workforce. It was while he was working as a sail maker that O’Sullivan came under the tutelage of Donal Walsh, a graduate of Villanova University. Together they focused on bettering O’Sullivan’s running performance and within a year, he was awarded an athletic scholarship for track and field at Villanova University. After four years at Villanova, O’Sullivan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and went on to complete his M.B.A. in 1989. Athletically, O’Sullivan pursued the Olympic games and ran in the games four times. He is also a three-time World Champion in the 1500m and is one of three men in the history of track and field to run more than 100 sub-four-minute miles. He is now coaching at Villanova University and in 1998 was presented the NCAA Coach of the Year Award.
In his six seasons as men’s head basketball coach at Villanova, Jay Wright has enhanced and added new chapters to the rich history of Villanova Basketball. Under Wright's tutelage, Villanova has appeared in each of the last three NCAA Tournaments, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2006 and Sweet 16 in 2005. In that span it has amassed a record of 74-24 (.755), produced a trio of National Basketball Association players, captured three Philadelphia Big Five crowns and a BIG EAST regular season championship (2006).
John Clark joined the NBC 10 news team in September of 2001 as a weekend sports anchor. Prior to joining NBC 10, Clark was a sports anchor and reporter for WPTV-TV, the NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach, Florida. He has also worked for WMGM-TV in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A native of Wallingford, Pennsylvania, Clark graduated from Temple University. He is an active volunteer for Special Olympics and has become more passionate about the events since his brother began competing.
Jade McCarthy joined the NBC 10 News Team on December 5, 2005. She works as a news reporter, specifically covering sports-related news stories. Working alongside NBC 10 Sports Director Vai Sikahema and Sports Anchor John Clark, McCarthy also serves as a substitute sports anchor. As a former news reporter who has a passion for sports, McCarthy is the first female sports reporter at NBC 10.
John V. Killen is senior vice president and director of CRA/Community Development and Community Relations for Sovereign Bank. In this capacity Killen is responsible for directing CRA activities and CRA compliance to ensure that the Bank’s strategies promote credit and services to all segments of the Bank’s community. In addition, he is president of the Sovereign Bank Foundation, the charitable giving arm of the bank in support of non-profit organizations to help improve the quality of life in our communities. Prior to joining Sovereign, he was vice president of Urban Investment Lending at First Union for nearly 25 years.
Robert Posner is president and CEO of NewDay where he has been the chief architect and visionary behind the company's strategic plan. He pioneered the development of NewDay's IDM strategy and continues to lead the team in creating innovative marketing strategies. He founded NewDay in 1999 and since that time has assembled a management team focused on information technology, direct response marketing and recruiting.. Prior to starting NewDay, Posner founded Fidelity First Mortgage in 1995 with three employees and grew the company to more than 200 employees.
John J. Swanick, CPA, is the office managing partner for the Philadelphia Metropolitan area, encompassing SMART's Philly’s office and Devon headquarters. SMART is one of the fastest-growing business advisory and consulting services firms in the nation. Swanick manages large client relationships and acts as a spokesperson for SMART to the greater business community. Swanick played a key role in SMART’s premier sponsorship of the Fall Festival and served as host to the company’s annual golf outing, which raised $50,000 to support this year’s Fall Festival.
Thousands of Special Olympics athletes, coaches, volunteers and supporters from across the state will travel to Villanova University for Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Annual Fall Festival, sponsored by SMART, Nov. 2-4, 2007. Returning to Villanova for the 19th consecutive year, the event features three days of athletic competition in bocce, long distance running/walking, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball.
The event will commence on Friday, Nov. 2, with Opening Ceremonies. Sponsored by Sovereign Bank, the Ceremony is slated to take place at 7:15 p.m. in the Pavilion on Villanova’s campus.
Volunteers are welcomed and spectators are encouraged to visit any of the competition venues on or near campus and cheer on athletes. For more information about volunteering, visit the official Villanova University Fall Festival Web site at www.specialolympics.villanova.edu.
Special Olympics Pennsylvania provides year–round training and competition in 23 Olympic –type sports to more than 18,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities or closely related developmental disabilities. For more information on how SOPA inspires greatness visit www.specialolympicspa.org.
Villanova University is a co-educational Roman Catholic institution founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842. The University offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs through four colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the College of Nursing, as well as the Villanova Law School. With a total enrollment that surpasses 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students, Villanova is the oldest and largest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For more information see www.villanova.edu.