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 7 - 9, 2014.
Celebrating 25 Years of “Revealing the Champion Inside” thousands of athletes!
Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s (SOPA) Fall Festival returned to Villanova University for the 25th consecutive year on November 1-3, 2013 and welcomed 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 was transformed according to a Hollywood theme and featured 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.
The anticipated Opening Ceremonies featured the lighting of the Olympic Torch to signify the official start of the games. The Olympic Torch was 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. Hundreds of runners representing law enforcement officers/teams from across the Philadelphia region participated to kickoff Fall Festival’s 25th Anniversary.
Delaware County Times
SOPA President and CEO Matt Aaron stands with Monroe County athletes Ernie Roundtree and 2013 Philadelphia Insurance Award recipient John DeMaio.
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 is John DeMaio, a soccer 11 v 11 athlete from Monroe County.
John has gone from being a “me” player to a “we” player. He shows soccer teammates who are new in their position the “ins and outs”, offers them encouragement when they are down, and has earned their respect. John also receives the respect of his coaches and has learned to accept constructive criticism and follow their directions.
During the soccer season, he continually expresses a desire to practice and often uses Facebook as a way to rally teammates to join him at the field. He is also the first to reach out and help a fellow athlete – even if they are on an opposing team. Recently, John stood up to a supervisor at work when he felt they were treating a co-worker and teammate unfairly. He gives 110% both on and off the field.