By Steven Penn firstname.lastname@example.org
Hendricks County Flyer
---- — For 12 years, Special Olympics Indiana has been pitting man versus machine in the Plane Pull Challenge, which raises money for the organization.
This year’s installment took place Saturday at the Indianapolis International Airport terminal, 2475 Hoffman Road, with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. and the contest starting at 9 a.m.
The idea is for groups of 20 to pull a FedEx Boeing 757 weighing more than 164,000 pounds, 12 feet as fast as they can — picture a giant tug-of-war. To participate, teams have to raise $1,200 and receive various fundraising prizes and incentives given out at different levels.
The event was emceed by Michael Henrich from Fox 59 and McKinzie Roth from i94.
Scott Furnish, director of development for Special Olympics Indiana, said Saturday was a record breaking day.
“In all likelihood, we’re going to break 90 teams today,” he said. “We’ll have teams that scratch, but we’re predicting more than 90 will pull today, which will be the record by about 20 teams.”
Furnish said that’s a long way for the event to come, after having 15 teams in the inaugural year.
“What we do is instead of competing against 90 teams, we basically have divisions,” he said. “We have seven different divisions to give teams a chance to win their division. The most popular are corporate and public safety.”
The other divisions include people who want a team of their friends, high school students, and an all-women team.
He said the Plane Pull Challenge is the single biggest fundraiser for the organization.
“Every dollar that we raise here goes to help Special Olympic athletes compete in their local communities and at state competitions — that’s what we’re all about,” Furnish said.
In addition to the challenge, there are also booths from businesses and clubs — like the Brownsburg High School Robotics Team — games, and a three-on-three basketball tournament featuring 16 teams.
Furnish said an event like this wouldn’t be possible without all the volunteers and partners helping to put it on.
“We’re thankful to our presenting partner, FedEx, and then the IAA (Indianapolis Airport Authority) for working with us to put on the competition,” he said.
Special Olympics Indiana is a non-profit organization that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, reaching more than 11,000 athletes across the state.
For more information on Special Olympics Indiana, call 328-2000 or visit the website at www.soindiana.org.