Members of the College of Engineering volunteered as part of the University’s 23rd annual Special Olympics festival on Nov 4. As the official host of the Special Olympics Pennsylvania fall state games for 23 consecutive years, Villanova brings together thousands of volunteers, athletes, coaches, and families for a three-day weekend of Olympic competition and festivities to celebrate mutual respect and inclusion.
"We have to accept people with disabilities as whole persons, and not as people with restrictions. Many people with disabilities have a difficult time integrating into society, and the Special Olympics gives them the opportunity to show people what they can do -- not what they cannot do," says Joseph Bidwell ChE '12, 2011 Director of Competition for the Special Olympics.
Dozens of individual Villanova Engineers, as well as organizations such as Engineering Student Council and NovaCANE, joined 4,000 volunteers, 400 coaches, 1,000 athletes, and a multitude of corporate partners in making the weekend a success and creating a spirit of friendship and fun along this year’s theme "Mission: Competition."
"There is no other event around where you see students, staff, families, and community members unite on such a large scale as the Villanova Special Olympics. Being that Villanova has the largest student-run Special Olympics in the world, we pride ourselves in setting a positive example for other Universities," says Gayle Doyle, Administrator of Student Support Programs. Sporting events include long-distance running and walking, bocce, speed and artistic skating, power lifting, soccer, volleyball, and individual skills competitions.
Already back on the job, the University’s Special Olympics committee, comprised of 84 students, has already begun working on next year’s event. Focused on providing an even greater experience each year, these dedicated students have no intentions of falling short of their goal.