Villanova University has been a part of the fabric of Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) since 1979 and is the official host of the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival state games each November. In 1989, the former SOPA Eastern State Soccer Tournament was changed into a Fall Festival that welcomed the addition of roller skating, volleyball, long distance running/walking, and equestrian to its competitive sporting events. Equestrian was later replaced with power lifting, and the precision sport of bocce was soon introduced.
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 2013 will be held from November 1 - 3, 2013.
Are you interested in volunteering for the 2013 Fall Festival?
2012 Fall Festival Event Recap
Thousands of Special Olympics athletes, coaches, volunteers, and supporters from across the state descended upon Villanova University for Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s (SOPA) Annual Fall Festival, Nov. 2-4, 2012. Returning to Villanova for the 24th consecutive year, the event is SOPA’s second largest annual competition that welcomed approximately 1,400 coaches, athletes and Unified Partners representing more than 35 Pennsylvania counties to participate in bocce, long distance running/walking, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball.
The official kick-off of Fall Festival occurred on Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. with Opening Ceremonies held in The Pavilion at Villanova. The anticipated Opening featured an array of special guests and the exciting lighting of the Olympic Torch to signify the official start of the games. The Olympic Torch was carried by participants of the Second Annual Fall Festival Torch Run, a 13 mile non-competitive run consisting of 5 legs from the legendary Philadelphia Art Museum to Villanova University on November 2nd beginning at 1 p.m. Hundreds of runners representing law enforcement officers/teams from across the Philadelphia region participated to kickoff Fall Festival’s 24th Anniversary.
Team Captains for the "Be a Fan" Fall Festival Torch Run included Inspector Dennis Wilson of the Philadelphia PD; Trooper Mark Kemmery of the Pennsylvania State Police-Belmont Barracks; Captain John Dougherty from the Lower Merion PD; Donald McMonagle from the PA Board of Probation and Parole; and Lt. Andy Block of the Radnor PD.
View Fall Festival Photos!
View Fall Festival Results
Philadelphia police officer carries the torch relay past Suburban Square as part of the Special Olympics PA Run from Philly Art Museum to Villanova University. Photo Pete Bannan/Main Line Media News
Radnor, Lower Merion and Philadelphia officers ran the torch from the the Art Museum to VIllanova. Photo Ryan Richards/Main Line Media News
Check Out Media Coverage for Fall Festival 2012
Delaware County Times
Main Line Media News
The 2012 Fall Festival event sponsors include Presenting Sponsor - TD Bank; Premier Statewide partner - Sheetz; W.W. Grainger; Student Transportation of America; GEICO; Sovereign Bank; Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check; The H.J. Heinz Company Foundation; the David and Marjorie D. Rosenberg Foundation; The Delaware County Times; 6abc; and WXVU. The Shipley School generously donates the use of their facilities for competitions and lunch for 400 venue participants.
2012 Philadelphia Insurance Award of Valor
(Pictured from left to right): Michelle Voli, Corporate Communications Coordinator for Philadelphia Insurance Companies, Special Olympics PA (SOPA) athlete Chris Smith, and SOPA Board Chairman Tony Gillespie.
Chris Smith, a Special Olympics PA athlete from Clinton County, won the 2012 Philadelphia Insurance Award of Valor on Saturday, November 3rd during the 2012 Fall Festival at Villanova University. The award is given to an athlete whose effort, determination, and sportsmanship are award-winning and inspirational. She or he shows determination and courage in the face of adversity and an ability to overcome obstacles.
Chris has been an athlete for 8 years and competes in floor hockey, softball and volleyball. Although a softball accident led to the need for reconstructive surgery and four plates being placed into his face, Chris is very outgoing and determined to do well in every sport. He continues to play just as hard as he did prior to his injury. We congratulate him on his 2012 Philadelphia Insurance Award of Valor!