The Fall Festival is hosted and organized by Villanova University students and is the largest annual student-run Special Olympics event in the world. For one weekend each year, Villanova University opens its campus up to over 1,000 athletes, 400 coaches, and 2,000 volunteers from the Villanova Student Body, surrounding community, and corporations. The athletes who participate in the Fall Festival compete in a total of six Olympic-type sports including bocce, long distance running, power-lifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball. However, sporting events are just a small component of the overall weekend. Villanova’s campus is transformed into an athlete’s wonderland, incorporating Opening Ceremonies; a parade; Healthy Athlete screenings; an Olympic Town offering face painting, food and fun; a Victory Dance; and Closing Ceremonies. There is no charge to participate in the Fall Festival or in any other Special Olympics event. All housing and meals for the weekend are provided by Villanova University and Special Olympics Pennsylvania.
The event requires 2,000 volunteers from the Villanova University student body, corporate organizations and the surrounding community.
Spectators are encouraged to visit any of the competition venues on or near campus and cheer on athletes at Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s second largest event of the year.
Fall Festival will be held from November 6 - 8, 2015.
Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Fall Festival returned to Villanova University for the 26th consecutive year on November 7-9, 2014 and welcomed more than 1,500 coaches, athletes and Unified Partners representing 36 Pennsylvania countiesto compete in bocce, long distance running/walking, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball.
In celebration of Fall Festival’s 26th anniversary, Villanova’s campus was transformed according to a Superhero theme of “Athletes Today, Heroes Forever”. The weekend was 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 Flag Football Scrimmage, Victory Dance and Closing Ceremonies.
Opening also featured 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. Hundreds of runners representing law enforcement officers/teams from across the Philadelphia region participated to kickoff Fall Festival’s 26th Anniversary.
The 2014 Fall Festival major event sponsors included 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.
2014 Philadelphia Insurance Award of Valor Award Winner
The Philadelphia Insurance Award of Valor is given to an athlete whose effort, determination, and sportsmanship are award-winning and inspirational. He or she shows determination and courage in the face of adversity and an ability to overcome obstacles. This year’s award recipient was James Sarno from Chester County.
James started playing soccer late in his young adulthood, and was almost 18 years old before participating in the organized sport. Despite his challenges in the area of communication and language processing, soccer and Special Olympics has become his passion.
This year James competed in his second ever Fall Festival. His program is proud of him for finding a sport that he loves and feels good about. His continued participation has given him the determination to work hard and the confidence to interact with his fellow athletes. James now takes group photos and engages in team cheers -- things that he would not have done during the first 2 years.
Special Olympics PA celebrated James’ efforts and accomplishments during its Fall Festival’s Victory Dance.