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West Chicago plane pull proceeds going to Special Olympics
By Nancy Gier | Daily Herald Staff

Members of the Lake County Sheriff's Department team pull a 33,000-pound corporate jet 20 feet in the time of 5.97 seconds during the Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull at the DuPage Airport in West Chicago. It was one of the better times recorded.


Marcelle Bright | Staff Photographer

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Published: 7/27/2008 12:02 AM

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It's very hard work pulling a 33,000-pound plane, but the payoff came in the satisfaction of helping a good cause.

Eight teams of 10 members participated in the 2008 Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull Saturday at the DuPage Airport in West Chicago. The event raises funds for Special Olympics, which provides athletic training and competition for people with disabilities.

Each team had several opportunities to pull a Challenger 600 corporate jet 20 feet with an extremely long and sturdy rope. The trick was to do the 20-foot pull as fast as possible.

"We do crazy things," said Tom Reasoner, deputy director of the Northeast Multi-Regional Training Inc., one of the event's organizers. The Law Enforcement Torch Run also sponsors a super plunge into Lake Michigan in February. "But our charity of choice is the Special Olympics and we have raised $2 million every year for the last three years. That means we've been able to help over 20,000 (special) athletes participate in 16 different sports."

Most of the plane pullers were law enforcement officers, but the special athletes had their own team at Saturday's event, and Susie Doyens, 30, of Sycamore was one of the members.

"It was hard work but a lot of fun," she said. Doyens participates in golf and swimming through Special Olympics.

Pam Stivers of Wheeling was on hand to cheer on her boyfriend David McNichol, who was a member of the Lake County Sheriff's Department team. Stivers was with her daughter, Kristine, 21, who participates in the softball throw and the assisted walking events through Special Olympics.

"She gets so much out of it," Stivers said. "I think I get even more out of it, seeing her smile, and the smiles of the others."

The participants in Saturday's event also seemed to have a lot to smile about, including Philip Brankin of Geneva, who directs the Northeast Multi Regional Training program and was part of the Chicago Highland Rifle and Bagpipe Band team, or "men in skirts."

"It's really fun to do it in kilts because of the uniqueness," Brankin said. "There's nothing below your kilts except your shoes and socks."

Good thing the wind wasn't blowing too hard Saturday.