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625 Athletes, 1,290 Volunteers Participate in 36th Annual Special Olympics Family Festival (SOFF)

Local festival celebrates 36 years with patriotic themed Salute To SOFF                         

MATTOON, Ill. Sept. 24, 2019 – More than 625 Special Olympics athletes from across central Illinois and almost 1,300 volunteers gathered in Mattoon, Ill., on Saturday, Sept. 21 for the 2019 Special Olympics Family Festival (SOFF).

Consolidated Communications created and hosted the first SOFF event in 1984. Now in its 36th year, SOFF is a day of non-competitive games and activities in a carnival atmosphere for Special Olympics Athletes. Guests at SOFF are paired one-to-one with a volunteer Friend-For-a-Day who enjoys the day with them.

This year’s festival featured a patriotic theme “Salute To SOFF” with red, white and blue bunting outlining the entertainment stage and a colorful powder cannon marking the beginning of the event. Lady Liberty, Uncle Sam and Captain America were among the costumed characters touring the grounds and each participant received a small U.S. Flag to wave.

“Our volunteers pulled through for us to make this day amazing for the more than 625 athletes who joined us,” said Brandon Walker, a Consolidated Communications employee and 2019 SOFF Committee Chairperson. “I am incredibly happy with the response from Eastern Illinois University, Lake Land College, local high schools and the community in support of this event through their volunteerism.”

Throughout the day, athletes and volunteers enjoyed singing karaoke, playing games and watching the parade and stage performances by Jim McBride, the Lake Land College cheerleaders and Elvis Himselvis. Members of the Arch Air Medical flight team landed their helicopter on the grounds shortly after the opening ceremony giving attendees the opportunity to look inside. Grady Jones and his dog “Budrow” along with Dr. Lori Cudone and her dog “Monroe” were also very popular as they walked the grounds and visited with SOFF guests.

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.

“This was an amazing team effort,” added Walker. “I’m proud of our local businesses that provided donations, financial contributions and volunteer support and the community members who donated their time to make this an unforgettable day for over 600 Special Olympic Athletes.”

Next year’s SOFF is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. Learn more about the event at, check out the Special Olympics Family Festival Facebook page or follow SOFF on Twitter @mySOFFtweets.

About Consolidated Communications
Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSL) is a leading broadband and business communications provider serving consumers, businesses, and wireless and wireline carriers across rural and metro communities and a 23-state service area. Leveraging an advanced fiber network spanning 37,000 fiber route miles, Consolidated Communications offers a wide range of communications solutions, including: high-speed Internet, data, phone, security, managed services, cloud services and wholesale, carrier solutions. From our first connection 125 years ago, Consolidated is dedicated to turning technology into solutions, connecting people and enriching how they work and live. Visit for more information.

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