Annual SPOlooza concert celebrates student, athlete unity



Song-Binh Ngo Staff Writer

On October 21, Villanova Special Olympics and Villanova’s a cappella groups joined forces to raise money for Villanova Special Olympics at the annual A cappella SPOlooza concert. The night featured performances from all seven A capella groups, as well as a unified performance featuring Special Olympics of Pennsylvania athletes and members from each A cappella group. The Villanova Room was packed with standing room only as an audience consisting of Special Olympics of Pennsylvania athletes, their families and members of the Villanova community filled the room for a special night of music and raising awareness. 

 “This fundraiser is different than most because while our team organizes all of the ticket sales, publicity and the background details, the ‘day-of’ involvement is different [since] the A cappella groups’ performances are the event,” Villanova Special Olympics Festival Director, Hannah Durnin, said. “SpO is able to enjoy the show while the A capella groups do what they do best. Our fundraising team and the Special Olympics Committee as a whole are forever grateful for their repeated willingness to partner with us and allow all of the proceeds to go to Fall Festival. ”

The emcees for the night were Special Olympics Fundraising Assistant, Olivia Hacker, and Athlete Representative, Teddy Angerman. Angerman represents Philadelphia County and has attended the Special Olympics World Winter Games in 1989 and 2001. In 2013, Angerman was inducted into the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania Hall of Fame.  He is also on the Villanova Special Olympics Committee to help plan Fall Fest. 

Angerman and Hacker introduced the first A cappella group of the night, Vocal Minority, who performed explosive renditions of Bastille’s “Send Them Off” and St. Motel’s “Move.” The Supernovas were next to take the stage with their version of Sam Smith’s hit, “Too Good at Goodbyes” and an exuberant version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Love So Soft.” 

The Sirens mellowed the audience with their renditions of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” and Lord Huron’s “The Night We Met.” Following the Sirens was Minor Problem which performed Lorde’s “Green Light” and threw it back to the eighties with its performance of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love.” 

The highlight of the night, which took place after performances from the first four A cappella groups, was a unified sing-along, during which Special Olympics of Pennsylvania athletes and two members from each A cappella group joined voices and sang Neil Diamond’s classic, “Sweet Caroline.” Soon after the song began, audience members got up from their seats and joined in, truly embodying the spirit of Special Olympics’ Unified Movement. This was the first year that a Cappella SPOlooza featured a unified performance. 

“The typical Special Olympics Unified Movement involves Special Olympics athletes and their able-bodied peers finding a common ground through playing sports on the same teams,” Durnin said. “With the A cappella concert, we added a musical portion to the slogan: Play Unified. Live Unified. Sing Unified. Our fundraising team is not just raising money for the athletes to compete at Fall Festival, but also involving the athletes in the fundraising and practicing the Special Olympics message of inclusion. It was an incredible feeling for 600 people of all different abilities to unite together in music and sing our hearts out.”

Following the Unified Sing-Along, three more A cappella groups took the stage, the first being Nothing but Treble which performed “Shark in the Water” and “Symphony.” The night continued as the Spires took the stage with their powerhouse versions of Charlie Puth’s “Attention” and Troye Sivan’s “Fools.” The last A cappella group to close the show was the Haveners who performed their spunky renditions of Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock” and Sia’s “Fire Meets Gasoline.” 

The night concluded with emcees Angerman and Hacker taking the stage once again to wrap up the night and invite the audience to the unified soccer game which took place the morning of Sunday, Oct. 22. This year’s A cappella SPOlooza was truly exemplary of Special Olympics’ Unified Movement by bringing together athletes, their families as well as members of the Univeristy community. 

“SpOlooza is such an amazing event because it shows the incredible support that the Villanova community has for Special Olympics,” Hacker said. “Thanks to the time and talent of the A cappella groups, we were able to create a successful event that raises money for Special Olympics, and creates an even more magical weekend for the athletes. Seeing the pure joy and excitement that all of the athletes radiated on stage during the Unified performance, was truly incredible.”