About Us

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Villanova University's Special Olympics Committee organizes the largest student-run Special Olympics event in the world! Comprised of 94 dedicated students, the "SpO" committee works year round to organize every aspect of the Festival, from staging ceremonies to managing the budget and coordinating thousands of volunteers. Members are chosen from a pool of hundreds of applicants who all share a dedication and love for Special Olympics and its athletes. The intercommittee collaboration, devotion, and work ethic embodies the Villanova tradition of "Veritas, Unitas, Caritas" perhaps better than any other student organization on campus.


About the Fall Festival

Villanova University is the official host of the Special Olympics Pennsylvania fall state games, one of four statewide Special Olympic events. During the first weekend in November, the campus will host over 1,000 athletes, 400 coaches, 5,000 volunteers, and the many corporate sponsors and media outlets that will provide coverage for the event. The athletes who participate in the Fall Festival will compete in six Olympic-type sports: bocce, long distance running, power-lifting, roller skating, soccer, and volleyball. All housing and meals for the weekend are provided by Special Olympics Pennsylvania and Villanova University.

Special Olympics is a life-changing movement of people helping people. The athletes of Special Olympics -- more than 20,000 alone in Pennsylvania -- are constant reminders of all that is right with the human spirit.

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About the Festival Director

The Festival Director for the games is chosen each year to be the student leader of the Committee. Villanova students who are interested in the position must endure a rigorous application process and have significant Committee experience along with a strong academic record. This year’s director, Jess Ritchie (’17), is no exception. Jess is a Marketing and International Bussiness double major and brings past experience as Finance Chair and Director of Special Events to her latest position as Festival Director. Her expertise, enthusiasm, and vision will help to lead the 2016 Special Olympics Committee to organize the greatest Fall Festival to date!

Jess can be contacted at festivaldirector@villanovaspo.com.