Special Olympic athletes pull 82-ton plane

Special Olympic athletes pulled a plane for a fundraiser at Dulles International Airport on Saturday. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – A team of Special Olympic athletes pulled an 82-ton FedEx Airbus cargo plane at Dulles International Airport on Saturday.

The event kicked off the 20th annual “Plane Pull” fundraiser, in which teams compete to pull a plane 12 feet in the fastest time. This year, there were 70 teams made up of 25 people each that participated.

“The first pull every year is done by a team of Special Olympic athletes that come out to show people their capabilities,” says Roy Zeidman, senior vice president of Special Olympics Virginia.

Normally, the audience is asked to help the Special Athletes to pull the plane, but not this year. Carolyn Troiano, mother of Special Olympic athlete Nick Troiano from Herndon, says the athletes did not need any help because they were “stronger than ever.”

Twenty years ago, Joe Hurtuk, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, came up with the idea to pull a plane as a fundraiser. Since then, the “Plane Pull” has raised $1.5 million for Special Olympics Virginia.

Saturday’s “Plane Pull” event at Dulles included a vintage aircraft display, car show, helicopter rides and a children’s truck pull.

The man verses machine challenge has taken off in other states, including Colorado, Maryland, Hawaii, Tennessee and Texas.

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