The Daily Eastern News

SOFF will celebrate its 35th year Saturday at Lake Land

Imani Tapley, Staff Reporter

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This year’s Special Olympics Family Festival will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Lake Land College located at 5001 Lake Land Blvd. in Mattoon. 

This is the festival’s 35th year and the theme this year is based on Jurassic Park. 

From its beginnings with just a few hundred special Olympian athletes and volunteers, SOFF now attracts nearly 700 special Olympians.

Kathryn Havercroft, a special education professor, said the event will include an Elvis Presley impersonator, games, a large dunk tank, temporary tattoos, a Santa Claus look-alike and karaoke.

According to the SOFF Facebook page, over 1,200 volunteers are needed for the festival. Volunteers help out with check-in tables, running the games, serving lunch and being “Friends-for-a-Day,” which means a volunteer is paired up with an Olympian. 

“I encourage volunteers to wear close-toed shoes and to come with a positive attitude,” Havercroft said.

Volunteering is open to the public, and those interested in volunteering who missed the informational meeting on Sept. 11 can still sign up to volunteer by going online at or by reporting to the West Building of Lake Land College.

Those who want to volunteer and are signing up the day of need to bring a photo ID to the West Building. 

Volunteers should be prepared to work from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. the day of the event.

Jessica Howell, majoring in special education, said she looks forward to the event every year.

“Students play a large role in this event and look forward to being a Friend-for-the-Day,” she said.

Havercroft said volunteers will be given a T-shirt to represent their role.  

Christina Edmonds-Behrend, a special education professor, said it will be a good day for those involved.

 “It’s a day of pure joy,” Edmonds-Behrend said.

Imani Tapley can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
SOFF will celebrate its 35th year Saturday at Lake Land