The 9th Annual Plane Pull to Raise Funds for Special Olympics Athletes in Long Beach and Southern California

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Photos courtesy of the Special Olympics Southern California, Los Angeles Region.

Get your guns out while the sun's out—and by guns we mean biceps, which may or may not help your chances of winning the 9th Annual Plane Pull on Saturday, August 23 at the Long Beach Airport.

In a valiant fundraising effort for Special Olympics Southern California, Los Angeles Region, it’s your team versus the machine as over 40 teams try to pull a 164,000 pound FedEx Airbus 310 aircraft 12 feet down the tarmac. The team that pulls the 164,000 beast of a plane the 12 feet the fastest will earn  the coveted trophy—and a Pelican Flashlight for each team member. Last year’s fastest time was 8.64 seconds.

Think you can you beat that, Long Beach?

Prizes and trophies will also be awarded for the slowest pull and the team that raised the most money. The individual who raises the greatest amount will receive two round-trip tickets from JetBlue Airline, while the top fundraising team will receive a $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant.

As if watching Long Beach teams compete in the Plane Pull wasn’t an entertaining-enough affair already, face painting, a dunk tank and a chance to enter the “Pee Wee” Pull with a smaller plane, provided by the California Highway Patrol, will also be available. The High Flying Classics Car & Motorcycle Show will be held from 8:00AM to noon and an Olympic Village will offer DJ music, fun and games. All participants will receive a free BBQ lunch and an opportunity to purchase desserts from participating food trucks.

PlanePull 02Lieutenant Adam Christin of the California Highway Patrol is the chairman of this year’s Plane Pull, as well as the coach of Long Beach’s Special Olympics Softball and Swimming teams. This event hits home given his niece, Jocelyn Christin, is a Special Olympics athlete in Oregon.

Lt. Christin is dedicated to spreading awareness about the Special Olympics to the public and whether that means signing up more teams this year than ever—last year saw 29 teams compared to this year’s 40-plus teams—or simply garnering more media coverage, this is what he and the committee enjoy doing to help the athletes.

“We come up with all kinds of different ideas, whether it’s something as simple as a golf tournament or as elaborate as a plane pull, it’s giving the athletes a chance to compete," Lt. Christin said.

Lt. Christin is in charge of building the teams, getting them to come out and gaining support from sponsors, not to mention he started the Plane Pull in 2007.  

As part of a new tactic to introduce plane pulling team members to the actual athletes, this year’s Plane Pull will assign one special olympic athlete as an Honorary Pilot for each 25-member team.

“We want you to get to know the athlete," Lt. Christin said. "You never know, it could build to the point where you want to go see the athlete compete. All kinds of things can happen with just a simple meeting between two people.”

Lt. Christin also commented on the misconception that all special olympics athletes are children.

“Most people think of special olympic athletes as being little kids, but that’s not the case," he said. "We do have small children, but the median age here in Long Beach is probably still in the mid 30s. The median age of my softball team, comprised of 32 people, has a median age in the mid thirties,” said Lt. Christin.

With only four days left to fundraise and $41,829 to go, this year’s goal to raise $100,000 for the Long Beach Special Olympics and Special Olympics of Southern California is nearer. Lt. Christin expects to reach $100,000 by the time the teams have lined up to pull at 10:00AM on Saturday. Each team must raise a minimum of $1,250 or raise $50 per team member. Participants that reach these goals will receive the official Plane Pull t-shirt.    

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Half of the funds raised will go toward the Long Beach Special Olympics program and the other half will go toward Special Olympics Southern California. According to Lt. Christin, everything that Special Olympic athletes participate in is paid for by the Special Olympics. Funds go toward uniforms, overnight stays when traveling to compete, equipment, transportation and anything else involved with running these teams.

Although the Plane Pull is getting close to take-off, anyone can still create a team or register to be assigned to an existing team.

“It’s never too late,” said Lt. Christin, “We’re taking teams all the way up to the very end.”

Teams or individuals can register here. Registration for teams and team assignment for individuals are also available the day of the event at 8:00AM. The competition will begin at 10:00AM.

For more information and to donate, sign up or become a sponsor, visit the Special Olympics Southern California Plane Pull Site. The Plane Pull is located at 2019 E. Wardlow Rd. The Plane Pull is sponsored by Tesoro, SEIU Local 99, FedEx, CHP, JetBlue, Wescom, US Bank, Long Beach Airport, Paradies, Long Beach Memorial Hospital, TABC, Pelican Products and the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

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