For Immediate Release
35th Annual Special Olympics Family Festival Draws 600 Special Olympics Athletes, 1,200 Volunteers
MATTOON, Ill. – Sept. 17, 2018 – More than 600 Special Olympics athletes from across central Illinois and 1,200 volunteers gathered in Mattoon, Ill., on Saturday, Sept. 15 for the 2018 Special Olympics Family Festival (SOFF), marking the festival’s 35th celebration.
Every September since the first SOFF event was held in 1984, Consolidated Communications has invited Special Olympics athletes and volunteer Friends-For-A-Day for a day of non-competitive games and activities in a carnival atmosphere on the grounds of Lake Land College.
To mark SOFF’s milestone 35th anniversary and recognize the Special Olympics 50th anniversary, Special Olympics Illinois President and CEO Dave Breen participated as the event’s special guest.
“Special Olympics Illinois is thrilled with the partnership it enjoys with Consolidated Communications and its support of the 46,000 athletes statewide,” Breen said. “The Special Olympics Family Festival is one of the largest in the world and brings the community together to celebrate the abilities of individuals with intellectual disabilities and promotes inclusion and acceptance for all.”
Throughout the day, athletes and volunteers enjoyed singing karaoke, playing games and watching stage performances including festival favorite “Elvis Himselvis.” Members of the AirLife flight team, based in Champaign, Ill. landed their helicopter on the grounds shortly after the opening ceremony giving attendees the opportunity to look inside. Grady Jones and his comfort dog “Budrow” were also very popular as they walked the grounds and visited with SOFF guests.
“The amazing volunteers and contributors who support SOFF are truly a reflection of the giving nature of our community and essential to the longevity of this celebration,” said Amanda VanScyoc, Consolidated Communications employee and 2018 SOFF Committee chairperson. “It’s these donors and supporters who come together to make SOFF a reality each year and such an amazing event.”
The SOFF planning committee includes employees from Consolidated Communications, First Mid Bank & Trust and Sarah Bush Lincoln. In addition, Lake Land College facilities team members are invaluable to the event, assisting with organization and ensuring the grounds are ready. The majority of Friend-For-A-Day volunteers are Eastern Illinois University and Lake Land College students.
Next year’s SOFF is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Learn more about the event at www.consolidated.com/SOFF, check out the Special Olympics Family Festival Facebook page or follow SOFF on Twitter @mySOFFtweets.