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ABOUT US

Villanova University's Special Olympics Committee organizes the largest student-run Special Olympics event in the world! Comprised of 106 dedicated students, the "SpO" committee works year round to organize every aspect of the Festival, from staging ceremonies to managing the budget and coordinating thousands of volunteers. Members are chosen from a pool of hundreds of applicants who all share a dedication and love for Special Olympics and its athletes. The intercommittee collaboration, devotion, and work ethic embodies the Villanova tradition of "Veritas, Unitas, Caritas" and strives to create a more inclusive campus and world.

About the Fall Festival

Villanova University is the official host of the Special Olympics Pennsylvania fall state games, one of four statewide Special Olympic events. During the first weekend in November, the campus will host over 1,000 athletes, 400 coaches, 5,000 volunteers, and the many corporate sponsors and media outlets that will provide coverage for the event. The athletes who participate in the Fall Festival will compete in six Olympic-type sports: bocce, long distance running and walking, power-lifting, flag football, soccer, and volleyball. All housing and meals for the weekend are provided by Special Olympics Pennsylvania and Villanova University.

Special Olympics is a life-changing movement of people helping people. The athletes of Special Olympics -- more than 20,000 alone in Pennsylvania -- are constant reminders of all that is right with the human spirit.

 

About the Festival Director

The Festival Director for the games is chosen each year to be the student leader of the Committee. Villanova students who are interested in the position must endure a rigorous application process and have significant Committee experience along with a strong academic record. This year’s director, Catherine Browne ('25), is no exception. Her expertise, passion, and focus will help to lead the 2024 Special Olympics Committee to organize the most extraordinary Fall Festival to date!

Catherine can be contacted at festivaldirector@villanovaspo.com.

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ADVISORS & MANAGEMENT TEAM

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STEVE KOCH

Faculty Advisor

Education: M.Ed., Drexel University
Position: Assistant Director of Student Involvement for Servant Leadership Programs
Previous Position: SOPA Eastern Competition Director
Favorite SpO Sport: All of course!

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BRUCE BACH

SOPA Liaison

Position: SOPA Senior Competition Director 
Favorite SpO Sport: All of course!

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CATHERINE BROWNE

Festival Director

Studying: Public Relations & Advertising, Business, Real Estate

Favorite Fall Festival Memory: My favorite Fall Festival memory occurred two years ago when I watched the young athletes participate in all of the activities at the Young Athletes Program with the brightest of Disney World-like smiles on their faces!

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SARAH HELSTROM

Director of Administration

Studying: Psychology, Education, and Disability Studies

Favorite Fall Festival Memory: Trading pins with athletes between competitions and forming new friendships! Also, watching Centre Counter Flag Football win their last game of the weekend!

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ALLIE HAFNER

Director of Competition

Studying: Biology, Education, and Disability Studies

Favorite Fall Festival Memory: Getting to reconnect with athletes that I know from home and have met at previous Fall Festivals!

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ERIN MULVEY

Director of Human Resources 

Studying: Biochemistry, Disability Studies, and Medical Ethics

Favorite Fall Festival Memory: Seeing so many smiling faces walking into Opening Ceremonies. I had the opportunity to hear so many athletes' hopes and dreams for Fall Fest and I was lucky enough to see many of them come to fruition throughout the weekend!

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LEAH JONES

Director of Special Events

Studying: Chemical Engineering

Favorite Fall Fest Memory: My favorite Fall Festival Memory is making new connections with athletes in O-Town. I love seeing their smiling faces, hearing about their weekend competitions, and getting to know them!

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SALLY BOUCHER

Director of Support Services 

Studying: Nursing

Favorite Fall Festival Memory: My favorite Fall Fest memory is when I got the opportunity to watch all the athletes on their way out of the Victory Jamboree! It was amazing to see all the hard work that the athletes put in all year pay off. Not only in their athletic accomplishments of the weekend, but also during the fun celebration that emphasized inclusion. 

 

If you have any questions regarding any positions feel free to reach out to anyone from the Management Team!

 

Festival Director - Catherine Browne - festivaldirector@villanovaspo.com

Administration - Sarah Helstrom - administration@villanovaspo.com

Competition - Allie Hafner - competition@villanovaspo.com

Human Resources - Erin Mulvey - humanresources@villanovaspo.com

Special Events - Leah Jones - specialevents@villanovaspo.com

Support Services - Sally Boucher - supportservices@villanovaspo.com

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