Special Olympics Hosts Strides 5k Run/Walk Ahead of Their Annual Fall Fest


Runners finish the finish line at the 5k race.

Audrey Weber and Sofia Krzewicki

This past Thursday, Oct. 20, Villanova Special Olympics hosted its annual Strides 5k Run/Walk. It was an exciting event for athletes and students alike, giving a small scale glimpse into what Fall Fest at Villanova will look like in the coming weeks. 


The Strides 5k Run/Walk is primarily organized by the Fundraising committee for Special Olympics and receives help from various offshoots of Special Olympics such as VCs, LPHs, Inclusion Crew and VUTC. 


The course of the 5k was a one-mile loop around campus that participants repeated three times, starting and ending the race just outside of Corr Hall. Students involved in the subsets of Special Olympics lined the course, cheering on runners and walkers as they came through. 


The Strides 5k Run/Walk invites not only athletes from nearby counties to participate but also Villanova students. Many students involved in the various levels and outlets of Special Olympics chose to partake in the event––one of them being senior Hannah Starner. 


 “[I] always value the unity of sports and how it brings everyone together regardless of ability, and I think Strides 5k is a great way to get involved in something and just feel the general inclusivity of the Villanova community,” Starner said. 


Well-known and loved across the University’s campus is Special Olympics athlete Trevor Ciampoli. He can be found all around campus participating in various events, and the Strides 5k Run/Walk was no exception. Strides was not only a great way for Ciampoli to spend time within the Villanova community, but it also allowed his longtime passion for running to flourish. 


“I chose to run because my middle school teacher told me I’d be great for Track & Field, and I’ve been doing it since then,” Ciampoli said.


At its core, Strides is the perfect example of just how impactful and meaningful Special Olympics is to the Villanova community. 


“This event is important because it helps spread awareness about Villanova’s Special Olympics organization,” said Leah Jones, SPO fundraising committee assistant. “Villanova hosts the largest annual student-run Special Olympics event in the world with over 1000 athletes, 400 coaches and 6000 volunteers. Strides helps raise awareness about Special Olympics on campus and embodies what Fall Fest is all about.”


Starner, Ciampoli and Jones all highlighted how the Strides 5k Run/Walk foreshadows the energy and excitement to come during Fall Fest, scheduled for Nov. 4-6. 


“This event is important to me because it feels like a preview of what’s coming for Fall Fest,” Ciampoli said. 


It just goes to show that if a chilly weeknight on Villanova’s campus can be filled with high energy and inclusion, one can only begin to imagine what Fall Fest will be like. 


“This [energy] times a million, like you can’t really put the energy that Fall Fest brings to campus into words,” Starner said. “This is a taste of it, but it gets even bigger…the entire campus gets transformed.”