More than enough to go around

Kerry Lester

It’s that time again.

For the 15th year in a row, Villanova’s campus is kicked into high gear for a weekend of competition and celebration as it hosts the Fall Festival Special Olympics Pennsylvania.

More than 1,000 athletes and nearly 350 coaches representing 35 counties will participate in this statewide competition.

The event will feature three days of competition in sports such as power-lifting, cross country running/walking, bocce ball, soccer, roller skating and volleyball. Such events take careful planning and organizing, says senior Cara Tarity, a communication major working as food assistant for the festival.

Last March, she began sending out letters to companies who might donate products to the event.

“Wawa has donated thousands of drinks for the weekend, along with tons of slices from Peace A Pizza and cookies from Hope’s,” Tarity said.

During the actual festival, Tarity and others will make bag lunches to take to different sites;distributing the food to athletes and their families.

One of the biggest sources of help for the weekend is Dining Services. “They put in so many extra hours, and are just really accommodating,” Tarity said.

Tarity was inspired to get involved in Special Olympics through her sophomore year roommate, who was on the food assistance committee.

Since August, Tarity’s committee has met weekly. As the events are only now a week away, they will be meeting every night this week to make sure everything is set to go.

Is all the hard work worth it? Tarity has no doubt in her mind. “By seeing the athletes you get this essence that you want to become more involved.,” she said. “All the hard work that you do is all worth it as soon as you see one athlete come up on campus.”

She loves it for the fact that every athlete expresses their happiness to be there. “They are there because they want to show how proud they are to be there and what amazing efforts they give,” Tarity said.

Opening ceremonies are set for tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Pavilion. Competition will begin that same day in bocce, long distance running, roller skating, soccer and volleyball. On Saturday, competition begins with power-lifting. Roller hockey, soccer and volleyball will have their final competition on Sunday.  Last year’s Fall Festival drew over 2,000 volunteers from the student body and the surrounding community to serve as officials, athlete escorts and award presenters, as well as to provide administrative support services. Volunteers from around the state are welcome.Special Olympics began in 1968 when Eunice Kennedy Shriver organized the First International Speical Olypmic Games at Soldier Field in Chicago.