VILLANOVA, Pa. – Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s (SOPA) Fall Festival will return to Villanova University for the 27th consecutive year from November 6-8, 2015 and welcome approximately 1,600 coaches, athletes and Unified Partners representing 39 Pennsylvania local Programs. Participants will compete in bocce, long distance running/walking, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer (5v5, 7v7, 11v11), and volleyball. Villanova’s campus, located at 800 E. Lancaster Avenue, will be transformed according to an underwater theme and feature Opening Ceremonies with live entertainment including Villanova Basketball Coach Jay Wright. In addition, the weekend will feature Healthy Athletes® programs, an “Olympic Town” festival offering athlete activities in-between sporting events, a Victory Dance and Closing Ceremonies.
Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Fall Festival is regarded as the largest university student-run Special Olympics event in the world led by Villanova University's Special Olympics Committee that assists SOPA in the event organization. The University also donates all of its facilities and serves as the event’s principle volunteer base under the leadership of Bobby Reiff, a senior who heads the 90-person student committee. Over 2,000 volunteers will be onsite to assist in the execution of the massive sports competition event.
The official kick-off of Fall Festival will occur on Friday, Nov. 6th at 7:30 p.m. with Opening Ceremonies held in The Pavilion at Villanova. The Opening will be emceed by SOPA Global Messengers, Jordan Schubert and Ernie Roundtree, and conclude with the lighting of the Olympic Torch to signify the official start of the Games. The Olympic Torch will be carried by participants of the fifth 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 6th 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 27th Anniversary.
Athletes will begin preliminary competitions on Friday, November 6th in bocce, soccer, roller skating and volleyball. Powerlifting and long distance running competitions begin on Saturday, November 7th. 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 activities will also be available to Fall Festival participants in a variety of ways this year on Saturday, September 6th and Sunday the 7th:
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 on Saturday from 9am – 5pm and Sunday from 9am – 12pm in Driscoll Hall.
Healthy Habits Fair is a new initiative that teaches athletes the importance of health in fun, interactive ways. The Healthy Habits Fair will have fun games, interactive activities, and healthy snacks for the athletes while still teaching ways to carry out a healthier lifestyle. The tables will be hosted by various Villanova student groups and organizations on Saturday from 11am-3pm and Sunday from 10am - 2pm in Driscoll Hall.
Active Athletes & Athlete Stretching will be held in addition to the Healthy Habits Fair and offer free group exercise classes and stretching led by trained volunteers. Athletes will have the opportunity to take part in the Active Athletes exercise group on Saturday at 9am - 5pm and Sunday from 9am - 12pm. Athlete stretching clinics will be held at various on campus competition sites from 8am – 6pm on Saturday.
Healthy Young 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. Young Healthy Athletes will be offered 9:30am – 1pm at the Kennedy Ellipse.
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 specialolympics.villanova.edu.
The 2015 Fall Festival major event sponsors include Premier State-wide partner - Sheetz; Presenting Sponsor TD Bank; W.W. Grainger; Sam’s Club; Wawa; Huntington Bank; Aerotek; Gilbane Contstruction; Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check; the David and Marjorie D. Rosenberg Foundation; Harmelin Media; Philadelphia Insurance Companies; KPMG; Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia; Connelly Foundation; Villanova University; The Delaware County Times; Law Enforcement Torch Run; and WXVU.