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Villanova to Host Special Olympics Pennsylvania's 25th Annual Fall Festival, Nov. 1-3

Special Olympics Int’l Chairman Dr. Timothy P. Shriver to Serve as Guest Speaker

Special Olympics logo

Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s (SOPA) Fall Festival will return to Villanova University for the 25th consecutive year on November 1-3, 2013 and welcome approximately 1,400 coaches, athletes and Unified Partners representing more than 35 Pennsylvania counties to compete in bocce, long distance running/walking, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball.  In celebration of Fall Festival’s 25th anniversary, Villanova’s campus, located at 800 E. Lancaster Avenue, will be transformed according to a Hollywood theme and feature Opening Ceremonies with live entertainment, Special Olympics International’s Chairman Dr. Timothy P. Shriver as a guest speaker, Healthy Athletes® programs, an “Olympic Town” offering athlete activities between sporting events, a Victory Dance and Closing Ceremonies.

Regarded as the largest university student-run Special Olympics event in the world, Villanova University's Special Olympics Committee assists SOPA in organizing the Fall Festival.  The University also donates all of its facilities and serves as the event’s principle volunteer base under the leadership of Katie Bonnell, a senior who heads the 87-person student committee. 

The official kick-off of Fall Festival will occur on Friday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. with Opening Ceremonies held in The Pavilion at Villanova. The anticipated Opening will feature the lighting of the Olympic Torch to signify the official start of the games. The Olympic Torch will be carried by participants of the third 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 1st 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 25th Anniversary. 

Athletes will begin preliminary competitions on Friday, November 1st in bocce, long distance running, soccer, roller skating and volleyball. Powerlifting competitions begin on Saturday, November 2nd. Roller skating competitions will take place at the Marple Sports Arena, 611 South Park Way in Broomall, PA. Some of the 7v7 Soccer competition will take place at the Agnes Irwin School, 275 S. Ithan Ave. 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.  Click here to view a complete schedule of events.

Several Healthy Athlete activities will also be available to Fall Festival participants in a variety of ways this year on Saturday, September 2nd:

Healthy Athletes® is a program in which volunteer health care professionals provide free health screenings and education to Special Olympics athletes in the form of eye, ear, dental and podiatry assessments. Special Smiles, Fit Feet, Healthy Hearing, Opening Eyes, Health Promotions and FunFitness will be held from 9am – 5pm in Bartley Hall.

Healthy Young Athletes sponsored by CVS Caremark, is a program that provides healthcare services and support, early childhood intervention, and preventative education to children with intellectual disabilities aged 2-7 years old.  Healthy Young Athletes will be offered 9:30am – 1pm at the Kennedy Ellipse; Special Smiles and Healthy Hearing screenings will be held from 11:30am to 12:30pm.  

Testing Recreational Activities and Improving Nutrition (TRAIN) sponsored by The Finish Line Youth Foundation, is a new sports assessment and nutrition education program developed by Special Olympics.  Assessment will take place when athletes complete a variety of fun physical fitness challenges at designated stations.  Athlete results will be used to highlight their skills and pinpoint which sports they may be most successful pursuing.  TRAIN will be held from 9am – 5pm in The Pavilion.

Fall Festival 2013 will be a qualifying event for the 2014 USA Games to be held in New Jersey from June 14 – 21. To date, just over half of the 243 athlete spots on Team Pennsylvania have been secured. The results of competition throughout the entire Fall Festival weekend will help determine the remaining spots.

More than 2,000 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 the athletes. For more information about volunteering, visit the official Villanova University Fall Festival Web site at

The 2013 Fall Festival major event sponsors include Premier State-wide partner - Sheetz; TD Bank; W.W. Grainger; Student Transportation of America; GEICO; Sovereign Bank; Aerotek; Gilbane; Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check; the David and Marjorie D. Rosenberg Foundation; Harmelin Media; US Airways; Finish Line; Philadelphia Insurance Companies; Invo Health Care; UPMC; Proctor and Gamble; Cove Haven Resorts; Temperance House; Grand Council R & S Master Masons; Mr. Richard McGrath;  Villanova University; The Delaware County Times; and WXVU.

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.