Special Olympics continue winning ways

This weekend will mark the 28th consecutive year for the Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s (SOPA) Fall Festival at Villianova University.

The Pennsylvania Special Olympics Fall Festival begins on Friday, Nov. 4, at Villanova University.

The Pennsylvania Special Olympics Fall Festival begins on Friday, Nov. 4, at Villanova University. Closing ceremonies are set for Sunday, Nov. 6.

The festival, which will run from Friday, Nov. 4, through Sunday, Nov. 6, will welcome approximately 1,200 coaches, athletes and Unified Partners, representing 39 Pennsylvania programs. Participants will compete in bocce, long distance running-walking, powerlifting, roller-skating, soccer and volleyball (team and individual skills), said a SOPA press release.

Villanova’s campus, located at 800 East Lancaster Avenue, will be transformed to match a “Journey Around the World” theme and feature opening ceremonies with live entertainment including Melmark's hand-bell choir, the Joybells. In addition, the weekend will include a Law Enforcement Torch Run kick-off at Citizens Bank Park, an “Olympic Town” festival offering activities in-between sporting events, a Victory Dance and closing ceremonies, the release said.

The Olympic Torch

The Olympic torch will be carried by members of the Unified Fall Festival Torch Run.

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 principal volunteer base under the leadership of Jessica Ritchie, a senior who heads the over 90-person student committee. More than 2,000 volunteers will be onsite to assist in the execution of the massive sports competition event.

The festival’s kick-off will occur on Friday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m., with opening ceremonies in the Pavilion at Villanova University. The Olympic torch, which will be lit to signify the official start of the games, will be carried by participants of the newly expanded Unified Fall Festival Torch Run. The Unified Torch Run is a 26 mile non-competitive run consisting of 18 legs from Citizens Bank Park to Villanova University on Nov. 4, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Hundreds of runners representing law enforcement, athletes, elected officials, schools and businesses from across the Philadelphia region will wind through Philadelphia before heading west through the heart of the Main Line to Villanova.

Athletes will begin preliminary competitions on Friday, Nov. 4, in bocce, soccer, roller-skating and volleyball. Powerlifting and long distance running competitions begin on Saturday, Nov. 5. Roller-skating competitions will take place at the Marple Sports Arena, 611 South Park Way in Broomall. All other activities will occur at Villanova University. Closing ceremonies will be held in the Pavilion on Sunday at 1 p.m. Click here to view a complete schedule of events.

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, and award presenters. Spectators are encouraged to visit any of the competition venues on or near campus to cheer on the athletes, the release said.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania provides year-round training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports to nearly 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy. For more information, visit www.specialolympicspa.org.


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