2020 Special Olympics to be virtual


MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — Consolidated Communications, Special Olympics Illinois and Lake Land College recently announced the 2020 Special Olympics Family Festival (SOFF) will be a virtual event this September.

Created in 1984 by Consolidated Communications and hosted on the grounds of Lake Land College, SOFF is a unique event that traditionally brings together more than 600 Special Olympics Athletes and 1,200 volunteers for a day of games and activities. This year’s festival, set for September 19, will not be held in person to ensure the health and safety of Athletes and volunteers; however, activities will occur virtually to celebrate area athletes.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of those who attend SOFF and at this time we do not feel it is responsible to bring 1,800 people together during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bob Udell, president and chief executive officer of Consolidated Communications. “We simply cannot put the health of the athletes and volunteers at risk. SOFF is a highly-anticipated event in the lives of our athletes, volunteers and our employees and we are committed to continuing the festival when it is safe to do so.”

The SOFF committee, comprised of Consolidated Communications employees, along with representatives from Special Olympics Illinois, Lake Land College, First Mid Bank & Trust and Sarah Bush Lincoln, is planning the virtual event that will include many of the same features as the typical festival, delivered in an online format.

“On behalf of the 23,000 Athletes and 13,000 Young Athletes in Illinois, I would like to thank Consolidated Communications, the SOFF Committee and the entire community for their long-term support of SOFF,” said Dave Breen, president and chief executive officer of Special Olympics Illinois. “While we are disappointed we will not get together in person, it is the right decision for the health and safety of all concerned. I am confident the virtual event will be a great and creative way to engage.”

“We will miss seeing all the athletes and volunteers on our campus this fall, we know this is the best decision to protect all involved,” said Josh Bullock, president, Lake Land College. “We look forward to welcoming everyone back to Lake Land’s campus in September 2021 for a grand celebration.”

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