"Friends" Needed for Special Olympics Fall Festival


Published on September 8 2016 3:36 pm
Last Updated on September 8 2016 3:56 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Consolidated Communications is looking for volunteers to help make the 33rd Annual Special Olympics Family Festival (SOFF) a day to remember for approximately 700 Special Olympics Athletes on September 17. The greatest need remains Friend-For-A-Day volunteers to be paired with athletes for the festival.

“You don’t need to be an expert to be a Friend-For-A-Day, you just need to be a friend,” said Vanessa Duncan, Area 9 director of Special Olympics Illinois. “Have fun with your athlete companion and you’ll be doing a wonderful job. Just listen to the athlete and help them do what they enjoy at the festival, whether it be taking a picture together in the photo tent, enjoying a tractor ride, singing in the Karaoke tent or listening to Elvis Himselvis perform.”

Unlike traditional Special Olympic events, SOFF is a non-competitive day centered on games and activities in a carnival-type atmosphere for pre-registered Special Olympic Athletes from Illinois Regions 8, 9, 10 and 17. At the beginning of the day, all athletes are paired with a volunteer Friend-For-A-Day who escorts them around the grounds as they participate in the various games and activities at the festival.

This year’s festival theme is “The Greatest SOFF on Earth” featuring circus performers from Gamma Phi Circus who will entertain the crowds.

The day begins around 8 a.m. with registration and concludes with a closing ceremony at 2 p.m. Volunteer t-shirts and lunch will be provided to all volunteers.

“SOFF is always an unforgettable day for the athletes and the volunteers,” Duncan added. “I encourage anyone who is considering signing up as a volunteer to just give it a try.”

SOFF is a non-smoking event and is not open to the public. All SOFF volunteers must be 16 years of age or older and must sign up as a volunteer prior to the event.  Volunteer registration is available online at www.consolidated.com/SOFFVolunteer where you can sign up as a Friend-For-A-Day or general event volunteer. Learn more about the event on Consolidated's Special Olympics Family Festival Facebook page or watch their video. Call 800-434-SOFF if you have questions.

SOFF was founded by Consolidated Communications in 1984, and is organized by its employees along with partners from Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center and First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust.