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 “People always say they count down the days until Villanova Special Olympics, because it’s such an amazing weekend and amazing ceremony. It’s the largest student run Special Olympics in the world.”

Those are the words of Nick Browne, a junior here at Villanova and a member of the four-person Awards Committee for the annual Villanova Special Olympics. Nov. 1—3 marks the 31st Annual Special Olympics (also known as Fall Festival) here at Villanova, and before the staple weekend, Browne shed some light on what it entails. As Browne discussed the details of the weekend, it was clear that, at its core, the event is all about the athletes who participate. 

“It is such a celebration of athletes who have been working so hard not just during fall fest, but in the months leading up to it,” Browne said, beaming with passion for the athletes of whom he speaks. These athletes come out for the weekend in numbers over 1,000, along with 400 coaches and 5,000 volunteers. Because of the sheer size of the event itself, there is so much that goes into its proper execution, a task Browne knows all about. He elaborated how the entire weekend is planned entirely by different committees, hence its title, “the largest student run Special Olympics in the world.” 

“We basically cover all the bases…everything is planned by us,” Browne said. From the food served, to the security, there is not a stone left unturned for these passionate Villanovans. When asked what keeps him coming back each year, Browne responded without hesitation. “The reaction of the athletes is just something that is worth all the planning and the late nights,” he said. This attitude seems to be the common thread connecting all those who volunteer for the event, and why Villanova continues to be so successful year after year.

The weekend itself consists of three days of athletic events. “The energy is unmatched” as the thousands of volunteers and athletes come together to play games and cheer on their peers. Each year, the Fall Festival has a new theme. This year’s theme is “Today is a new day: How will you choose to soar?,”a fitting embodiment of the positive and inclusive community that Villanova Special Olympics preaches. The event is truly one of a kind. It is labored with love at the hands of students, making it more immersive within the Villanova community and beyond.

Interested in getting involved in the weekend? There are plenty of options available including the all freshmen group of Local Program Hosts, Volunteer Coordinators for upperclassman, or the new Inclusion Crew. While it is too late to be in a group for this year’s Fall Festival, there is only about a month’s wait after the weekend until applications for next year’s committee come out, along with Unified Events in the spring where students can play sports with the athletes. That being said, make sure to go out and support the Villanova Special Olympics the weekend of Nov. 1. It is said to be magical not only for the athletes, but for all involved.