By Melanie Barrios
Ernie Bille has participated in many Plane Pull fundraisers, but this year is special. This year is the first time he will be participating as a recently promoted captain. He took this opportunity to build his dream team and encourage other unit commanders to come together to form their team for the Plane Pull.
Since he started attending the Plane Pull event, Ernie has seen muscle man teams pull a plane in 12 seconds or less. “We’re all scientists here at the crime lab, so I don’t think we will be doing it at record time,” says Ernie. His team’s motto will be the same as the athletes: “Do the best that we can!”
Team LASD Crime Labs took inspiration from their name from the show CSI. The team consists of lifelong Special Olympics supporters who have already reached their fundraising goal. Ernie credits Special Olympics athletes as their inspiration to participate in events like this to help bring awareness and acceptance to people with intellectual disabilities. Though some people might view Special Olympics athletes in awe of seeing them participate or win at competitions, athletes do not. Athletes pour their hearts out in every event. “They have this spirit about them that says, ‘I can do anything, and if I can’t, at least I gave it the best of my tries.’ I think that kind of spirit, that kind of will, is something that should be translated to everybody. We’d be a much better world because of [athletes] as examples. They’re very kind. Give everything they got. I just love that.”
Ernie has been volunteering for Special Olympics for as long as he has been with the LA County Sheriff’s Department for 24 years. He knew very early on in life he wanted to be in public service, and interacting with the community is his favorite part of the job. Over the years, Ernie has participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, Plane Pull, Fun in the Sun Chili Cook-Off, and golf fundraisers. Engaging with athletes, friends, and supporters of Special Olympics makes the events enjoyable. He encourages anyone on the fence about volunteering to attend at least one Special Olympics event and promises you will be hooked. “You’re just going to see the smiles, the camaraderie, and the laughter. If that doesn’t fill your heart up with joy, I don’t know what else will, but that’s what makes [volunteering] easy.”