Michael Sameles of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department picked a good year to participate in his first Plane Pull on Saturday.
The law enforcement agency posted the top overall time, pulling a 124,000-pound FedEx plane 12 feet in just 5.1 seconds at Long Beach Airport. In all, 54 teams participated in the 12th annual event and were given two attempts. Each team comprised of 25 people plus one Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) athlete serving as honorary team captain.
The L.A. Sheriffs topped the best time on their first pull, but they mustered enough strength to set a better mark on the second attempt.
“Let’s just get [the time] as low as we can,” Sameles said about the mindset heading into the second pull.
Along with law enforcement, sponsors such as Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP also put together teams. Joshua Davis, 31, of Los Angeles competed on behalf of his mother, an employee.
“It’s just an awesome experience, just to pay it forward,” Davis said.
“You just lean into it and lean back as hard as you can. You’re all working, striving for one common goal.”
The event also brought out individuals like Jaclyn Di Gregorio, a Redondo Beach resident who grew up volunteering at Special Olympics’ events.
Di Gregorio, who pulled with the ILoveKickBoxing.com team, said the plane was a bit intimidating at first.
“I saw the plane and was like, ‘Wow! This is going to be difficult,’” she said. “But we huddled together and we said, ‘Squat low, pull fast.’
“It’s inspirational to be able to raise money and do this really awesome event.”
The top fundraising team was Kia of Cerritos, which accounted for $12,686 of the $135,288 raised as of Aug. 21. The top individual also came from Kia of Cerritos as Yosemite Hamilton raised $11,661 – almost three times as much as the next closest total.
But the fundraising isn’t over just yet! California Pizza Kitchen at Los Cerritos Center is hosting a Plane Pull Fundraiser Day. Mention SOSC Plane Pull to your server and 20 percent of the sale will benefit SOSC.
Stay up to date on all of the great fundraisers and competitions SOSC has to offer at SOSC.org/events.
Inside the SOSC is a blog written by staff member Tracy McDannald. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.