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Special Olympics Pennsylvania's Fall Festival Returns to Villanova University for 24th Consecutive Year

Villanova Enters the “Be Vital Challenge” to Gain Fall Festival Exposure

Special Olympics Pennsylvania logo

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Thousands of Special Olympics athletes, coaches, volunteers, and supporters from across the state will once again descend upon Villanova University for Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s (SOPA) Annual Fall Festival, Nov. 2-4, 2012. Villanova University's Special Olympics Committee organizes the Fall Festival, which is the largest student-run Special Olympics event in the world. 

Returning to Villanova for the 24th consecutive year, the event is SOPA’s second largest annual competition that welcomes approximately 1,400 coaches, athletes and Unified Partners representing more than 35 Pennsylvania counties to participate in bocce, long distance running/walking, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball.

The University donates all of its facilities and serves as the event’s principle volunteer base under the leadership of Dan Connell, a senior who heads the 95-person student committee.  This year, in an attempt to gain greater exposure for the Fall Festival, the committee has entered the Johnson & Johnson Be Vital Challenge for student organizations that are "vital" to their communities, the environment, or society.  If their video receives the most views and votes, it could win $10,000 to continue its mission.  The contest continues from now until Monday, October 29; therefore, fans of SOPA are encouraged view the video and vote.

The official kick-off of Fall Festival will occur on Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. with Opening Ceremonies held in The Pavilion at Villanova. The anticipated Opening will feature an array of special guests and the exciting lighting of the Olympic Torch to signify the official start of the games. The Olympic Torch will be carried by participants of the annual Fall Festival Torch Run.  The Torch Run is a 13 mile non-competitive run consisting of 5 legs from the legendary Philadelphia Art Museum to Villanova University on November 2nd beginning at 1 p.m.  Hundreds of runners representing law enforcement officers/teams from across the Philadelphia region will participate to kickoff Fall Festival’s 24th Anniversary. 

Athletes will begin preliminary competitions on Friday, November 2 in bocce, long distance running, soccer, roller skating and volleyball. Powerlifting competitions begin on Saturday, November 3. Roller skating competitions will take place at the Marple Sports Arena, 611 South Park Way in Broomall, Pa. Bocce and some soccer games will be held at The Shipley School, 814 Yarrow Street in Bryn Mawr, Pa.  All other activities will take place at Villanova University. Closing Ceremonies will be held in The Pavilion on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

More than 3,000 volunteers from the Villanova student body and the surrounding community are expected to participate in the event this year, serving in numerous capacities including as officials, athlete escorts, award presenters, and administrative support services. Volunteers from across the state are welcome and spectators are encouraged to visit any of the competition venues on or near campus to cheer on athletes. For more information about volunteering, visit the official Villanova University Fall Festival Web site at

The 2012 Fall Festival event sponsors include Presenting Sponsor - TD Bank; Premier State-wide partner - Sheetz; W.W. Grainger; Student Transportation of America; GEICO; Sovereign Bank; Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check; The H.J. Heinz Company Foundation; the David and Marjorie D. Rosenberg Foundation; The Delaware County Times; 6abc; and WXVU. The Shipley School generously donates the use of their facilities for competitions and lunch for 400 venue participants. 

About Special Olympics Pennsylvania: Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) provides year-round training and competition in 22 Olympic-type sports to more than 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities or closely related developmental disabilities. For more information, visit our Web site at

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.  Click here for more information on Villanova University.