Fall Festival 2014 brings positive energy to campus

Samantha Marinelli

Last weekend, Special Olympics Fall Festival 2014 had the entire campus buzzing with positive energy. Thanks to perfect weather, enthusiastic volunteers and athletes from counties across Pennsylvania, the weekend went off without a hitch and was fun for all involved. Thousands of volunteers, families, athletes and coaches were welcomed to campus with open arms for the 26th Annual Fall Festival.

The University community came together to celebrate the abilities of Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s finest athletes. The volunteers from both the University and the local community were responsible for supervising competition venues, cheering on athletes and guiding visitors around campus. They also hosted fun events like the Victory Dance, a party in the Pavilion on Saturday night to celebrate the accomplishments of the athletes.  

As far as competition, there was success on all fronts. A new addition to Fall Festival was “Bocce Town” in the Pavilion. This gives athletes who spend their day in the Pavilion the chance to participate in some of the fun activities that are located across campus. Bocce, among other competitions including volleyball, soccer, roller skating, long-distance running and power lifting, were incredibly successful. 

“Everyone did amazing,” Meghan McCann, Hospitality Assistant, said. “Thousands of athletes, volunteers, coaches and parents were all over campus. The mood was undeniably positive.”

Another new addition to this year’s Fall Festival was the implementation of a new Alumni Committee. This allows past Special Olympics committee members to connect with University students who are passionate about the cause and letting them know about service opportunities in their new locales. A luncheon was hosted in the President’s Lounge on Saturday to discuss this new program.

One aspect of Special Olympics that many don’t know about is Healthy Athletes in Driscoll Hall. This encourages health promotion and healthy habits for the athletes. This program included walk-in check ups, eye-doctor visits, podiatrists doing free foot checks and more.

Walking through campus, it was a sea of volunteers but scattered throughout the volunteers were young children. Young athletes, some as young as two or three years old, were invited to participate in fun lawn games and activities on the Ellipse with student volunteers. 

Festival Director Katie Hickey led the committee of passionate University students to have yet another year of amazing success with the assistance Management Team, Luke Allen, Bobby Reiff, John Szot, Erin Hannon and Lindsay Peterson represent MT and serve as the directors of human resources, administration, competition, support services and special events, respectively.

Superheroes were walking on campus last weekend. The sheer impact of the Fall Festival not only on University students, faculty and staff but also the athletes and the local community is overwhelmingly large.  As Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., said in the Special Olympic’s Awareness Team video “What’s Your Why,” there no better place in the world than Fall Festival at the University.