Wish Fund benefit draws record number of teams, celebs, mayoral decree
The numbers are in and it’s official: The fourth-annual Pulling for Wishes Plane Pull raised a record $250,470.15 to benefit the Indiana Children’s Wish Fund. A record 44 teams competed in the April 26 event, too, raising about a third of the total amount.
“The generosity of our sponsors, employees and volunteers almost leaves you speechless. Republic Airways and everyone involved in making this happen should be extremely proud of the results,” said Director of Inflight Amy Chiappe, who spearheaded the Company’s organizational efforts. “A lot of children’s wishes will be granted as a result of this. The whole event was simply amazing.”
Indeed. About 1,500 people – pull team participants, sponsors, volunteers and spectators — filled the Republic Airways Hangar at Indianapolis International Airport for the morning event. Among them were celebrities like seven-time MLB All-Star and Evansville native Scott Rolen; local media including The Indianapolis Star; and executives from some of the Company’s biggest business partners, including American Airlines, Bombardier, Embraer, Ford Harrison, itLuggage and United Airlines, among others.
The Plane Pull even caught the attention of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office, who presented the Company with an official decree recognizing the “dedicated efforts in partnership with (ICWF) to raise more than $600,000 over four years …. As a result of your work, local children with life-threatening or terminal illnesses will have their wishes granted. Best wishes for many more years of success.”
With temperatures in the 60s and clear skies, the event started promptly at 9 a.m. with opening ceremonies led by emcee Joe Staysniak, a local sports radio personality and former NFL offensive lineman. Among those he recognized was 8-year-old Mason Unton (left) of Westfield, Ind., whose team raised $7,885 and won $1,000 in gift cards to Prime 47 Restaurant for collecting the most money.
Second-place was defending fundraising champion Team Kaylee from the RAH Finance Department with $6,150; third-place was Team Walk Like the Egyptians from the RAH Inflight Department with $5,530; and runner-up was Team Flight HR from the RAH Human Resources Department with $5,112.
At 9:30 a.m., RAH Columbus maintenance worker Ian Frias kicked off the event with an amazing show of strength by pulling the 65,000-pound E-190 aircraft 15 feet by himself. As you might expect, the crowd roared with thunderous cheers and applause after Frias finished his strongman stunt.
After that, the Plane Pull competition quickly began. One by one, teams lined up along the thick rope, each showcasing its own pulling strategy as the starting horn blew. Some put the biggest team members in front, some anchored the back, while others wrapped the rope around their waists. All pull times came in under 18 seconds, with the average at about 10-12 seconds.
The day’s fastest pull came from The Carmel (Ind.) Fire Department (right) at 8.03 seconds, earning them 10 domestic roundtrip American Airline tickets. The runner-up was Team Dinner Time from the RAH Columbus Maintenance group at 8.12 seconds, and third place went to Team Force Barbell at 8.53 seconds.
Costumes were all the rage, too. Inflight’s Walk Like the Egyptians won for best outfits, earning each team member a three-piece luggage set from itLuggage. Honorable mention went RAH Team Skaffs Aviators, representing the Company’s Supply Chain Department.
The top raffle ticket seller was Ginger Yerman, who sold a whopping 2,650 tickets, while runner-up Judy Michaels wasn’t far behind.
Of course, the event couldn’t have happened without the tireless efforts of Republic Airways volunteers from across the country, as well as the 100 volunteers on site that day. The latter included Flight Attendants and Trainers serving soft drinks from concession carts, headquarters staff maintaining a dozen tables filled with thousands of dollars in silent auction items, and hangar maintenance workers handling the logistics and positioning of the tethered aircraft.
For a photo gallery of the event, check the website of DBN Photos at http://www.dbnphotos.com/Plane-Pull/2014-Plane-Pull
2014 Fastest Pull-Time Winners:
Carmel, Indiana – Fire Department
For a photo gallery of the event, check on the website of DBN Photos at http://www.dbnphotos.com/Plane-Pull/2014-Plane-Pull
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