By Emma Lee
Special Olympics Southern California will host one of its biggest events this Saturday – and there will be double the fun at Long Beach Airport.
The 14th annual Plane Pull will not be alone because the We Run the City 5K and 10K will happen that morning. UCLA and USC supporters will face each other once again, and for the first time at the Long Beach Airport after alternating between the two campuses in previous years.
Since 2006, Long Beach Airport has graciously lent its grounds to host the Plane Pull.
Among the many great people who make the event possible is Claudia Lewis, the interim director of the Long Beach Airport. She plays the important role of making sure the airport is ready to go on the big day.
“Everyone here at Long Beach Airport – operations and maintenance staff, security team members, concession employees, tenants, and volunteers – are committed to making this a successful event in a safe, fun, and memorable way,” she said.
Along with the Long Beach Airport, law enforcement agencies have always been a loyal and committed partner of Special Olympics. Lt. Adam Christin of California Highway Patrol hasn’t let his retirement stop him from participating in any Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) events. He was, in fact, part of making the very first Plane Pull happen.
“Lt. Christin has been involved with Plane Pull for several years and remains dedicated to its success,” Lewis said.
After attending a conference for LETR and hearing about Plane Pull events around the country, he knew it needed to happen in Southern California. Lt. Christin believed Long Beach Airport was the place, the size was perfect, and a smaller community airport would be ideal for arranging events.
“They’ve added stuff each year, making it more of a family event. A car show, displays, interactive events, the CHP kids’ pull,” Lt. Christin said.
Everyone will find something to get excited about. This year is extra special because We Run the City will share the day and venue. The 5K and 10K will happen earlier in the morning, before the Plane Pull festivities begin and runners, along with their friends and families, are encouraged to join.
All participants from both UCLA and USC are pushing hard to fundraise more than their rival. The competition will be settled on the race course, with the winning school claiming Los Angeles for their own.
“Look forward to welcoming everyone to the site for both events and promise a great time will be had by all!” Lewis said.