Special Olympics Family Festival

The Special Olympics Family Festival is on Saturday.

MATTOON – Consolidated Communications employee Tiffany Walters knows the powerful impact Special Olympics Family Festival (SOFF) has on attendees and urges area residents to consider volunteering for the upcoming event.

Walters’ son, Drew, has participated in SOFF for five years. She says the festival has a huge impact on him, and it is only possible because of local residents and students volunteering for the event.

SOFF, the largest event of its kind in the U.S., draws more than 600 Special Olympics Athletes from east central Illinois to Lake Land College. The Saturday, Sept. 21 event is organized by employees from Consolidated Communications along with representatives from First Mid Bank & Trust and Sarah Bush Lincoln.

At SOFF, each athlete is paired with a volunteer Friend-For-A-Day who escorts them through the carnival-like midway of games and activities. More than 1,200 volunteers are needed to make the day a success.

Walters sees multiple perspectives of SOFF as Drew’s mother and one of the committee members responsible for organizing the annual event.

“When we drive by Lake Land College months after SOFF, Drew will ask me about the event and when he can go again,” Walters said. “Drew looks forward to SOFF every year and especially enjoys touring the fire truck. SOFF is the day Drew gets to experience opportunities that normally wouldn’t be possible. SOFF wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the amazing people volunteering to be a Friend-For-A-Day. I can guarantee that when you invest time being a Friend at SOFF you will walk away witnessing genuine happiness, true friendship and the feeling that you were a part of something bigger than yourself.”

SOFF volunteers must be 15 years of age or older; and Friend-For-A-Day volunteers must be at least 16 years old.

The annual event, now in its 36th year, is open only to registered Special Olympics athletes, their family members and registered volunteers. Visit consolidated.com/soff learn more about volunteering, register to help and watch videos highlighting volunteer opportunities. Volunteers can also call 800.434.SOFF or email soff@consolidated.com for additional information.

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