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Villanova to Host Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s 26th Annual Fall Festival, Nov. 7-9

Members from the Taney Dragons Little League to Participate in Opening Ceremonies

SOPA logo

VILLANOVA, Pa. - Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s (SOPA) Fall Festival will return to Villanova University for the 26th consecutive year on November 7-9, 2014 and welcome more than 1,500 coaches, athletes and Unified Partners representing 36 Pennsylvania counties to compete in bocce, long distance running/walking, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball.  In celebration of Fall Festival’s 26th anniversary, Villanova’s campus, located at 800 E. Lancaster Avenue, will be transformed according to a Superhero theme of “Athletes Today, Heroes Forever”. The weekend will be highlighted by Opening Ceremonies with live entertainment, the Taney Dragons Little League, 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 Hickey, a senior who heads the 90-person student committee. 

The official kick-off of Fall Festival will occur on Friday, Nov. 7 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 fourth 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 7th 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 26th Anniversary. 

Athletes will begin preliminary competitions on Friday, November 7th in bocce, soccer, roller skating and volleyball. Powerlifting and long distance running competitions begin on Saturday, November 8th. Roller skating competitions will take place at the Marple Sports Arena, 611 South Park Way in Broomall, 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 and emerging sport activities will also be available to Fall Festival participants in a variety of ways this year on Saturday, November 8th:

  • 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 Driscoll Hall.  A Healthy Habits Fair will also be held in Driscoll Hall from 11 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Young Healthy Athletes 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.  Special Smiles and Healthy Hearing screenings will be held from 11:30am to 12:30pm in Driscoll Hall.
  • Strive Assessment Program, sponsored by The Finish Line Youth Foundation, is a 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 10 designated stations.  Strive provides a baseline measurement of an athletes’ fitness prior to beginning an eight to ten week training period for a chosen sport.   STRIVE will be held from 9am – 5pm the Kennedy Ellipse.
  • Flag Football Scrimmage and Clinic – Flag Football is an emerging sport for Special Olympics PA.  Visit Austin Field from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. for a scrimmage featuring two of our state’s teams.  Then return to witness an athletic clinic from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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 2014 Fall Festival major event sponsors include Premier State-wide partner - Sheetz; TD Bank; The Grainger Foundation; GEICO; Aerotek; Gilbane; Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check; the David and Marjorie D. Rosenberg Foundation; Harmelin Media; Morgan Stanley; Finish Line; Philadelphia Insurance Companies; V. E. Ralph; Proctor and Gamble; Cove Haven Resorts; Wawa; Grand Council R & S Master Masons; Law Enforcement Torch Run; Villanova University; The Delaware County Times; and WXVU.

Media Contacts: Nicole Jones, Special Olympics Pennsylvania, 610.630.9450, ext. 231,; Scott Gosselin, Fall Festival Media & Publicity Chair, 480.440.3171,

About Special Olympics Pennsylvania: Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) provides year-round training and competition in 21 Olympic-type sports to nearly 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 six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies 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.