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Preview of the 2023 Villanova Special Olympics Fall Fest

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Gabi Frank
Community members reflect on last year’s Fall Fest while gearing up for this year’s.

Villanova is full of clubs in which students take part, from arts and music to mental health awareness, yet it seems the weekend of Fall Fest is when most students come together to celebrate equality and the hard work of the athletes. 

“Inclusion has become a part of my life,” Fall Fest Director of Special Events Marina Rouse said. “It has not only created a safe haven for athletes, but all involved. It provides a sense of warmth and comfort where everyone is inspired to be the greatest version of themselves. Personally, my most authentic self comes out when surrounded by the Special Olympics community. The joy and welcoming aroma of Fall Fest weekend has helped curate me into a person I am proud to be.”

Every year, Fall Fest is full of high energy and fun. 

“I am so excited to be in the magical atmosphere that is Fall Fest,” sophomore Gabi Frank said. “I am also very excited to interact with the athletes.”

Villanova’s Special Olympics is full of multiple different athletic events, including bocce, long distance running and walking, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball. 

“I really am excited to see all the events this weekend,” sophomore Kara McGoldrick said. “Now that I live on main campus, I am really excited to be more involved and get to talk and see the athletes and all the hard work that they have put into training.”

Students have been getting involved with the Special Olympics for a multitude of reasons. 

“[I] got involved in the Special Olympics because I am passionate about the message of inclusion,” junior Abby Jansen said. “Being able to be a part of a community that accepts everyone for exactly who they are is incredible.” 

“Living in the quad makes me really excited for O-Town,” sophomore Nadia Balduf said. “I am so excited to be in the midst of all the excitement and love for the athletes and Special Olympics as a whole.”

“The Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival is hosted and organized by Villanova University students and is the largest annual student-run Special Olympics event in the world,” the Villanova Special Olympics website reads. “Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) provides year-round sports training and competition for more than 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.” 

“[I am] really proud to be a student at the University that hosts the largest student run Special Olympics in the world,” sophomore Zach Hetrick said. “I am really excited to help out this year and see how much of an impact we can have on these athletes’ lives.” 

This year’s Fall Fest is running from Nov. 3 to Nov. 5, and the University is expecting to host thousands of participants and their families. Athletes will be traveling from far and near, and those staying in local hotels will receive welcome letters written by students volunteering here at Villanova. 

“All students and staff at Villanova should become involved in the Special Olympics in some way,” Jansen said. “There are endless possibilities when it comes to volunteering. Whether it be cheering on an athlete in their biggest competition of the year, serving food in the dining hall or lending a hand at a competition venue, you will have a lasting impact and develop new relationships that will carry so much meaning.”

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Lauren Armstrong, Co-News Editor
Lauren Armstrong is a sophomore Public Service and Administration and Communication double major and is in her first year as one of the Co-News Editors for 2024. Lauren’s passion for politics and on campus events has led her to cover a variety of stories since her freshman year. Lauren prides herself in her very detailed and color-coded Google Calendar, and when she is not running around campus between classes and a million meetings, she can be found making the best lattes at the Conn Holy Grounds.
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