The 24th annual Dulles Plane Pull raised more than $325,000, breaking the event’s previous all-time fundraising record by $25,000.
The event, which drew approximately 10,000 people to Dulles Airport on Sept. 17, raised money for Virginia’s Special Olympics organization. Funds help more than 27,000 athletes in the Commonwealth with disabilities by providing for uniforms, facilities and programming.
“We really appreciate the support of the Northern Virginia area,” said Special Olympics Senior Director of Public Relations Holly Claytor. “Thanks to them, we’ve been able to do this successfully for 24 years, which is a testament to the community and everyone rallying around to support the Special Olympics.”
The Plane Pull is among the largest fundraisers for the organization, with the majority of funds coming from contributions of the participating teams. This year, 91 teams entered and each was required to raise at least $1,500 to compete. The top fundraising team, the Prince Williams County Sheriff’s Office, raised more than $13,000.
The remaining funds came from sponsorships, donations and sales during the event.
The competition part of the Plane Pull has each 25-person team individually timed as it tries to pull a plane by rope across 12 feet of airport tarmac as quickly as possible. While most teams came from Northern Virginia, teams from across the state competed, including the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office, which had the fastest pull.
Claytor said a second plane was a major factor in this year’s fundraising increase. For the second-straight year, a plane from United Airlines accompanied a plane from FedEx, allowing more teams to sign up. Because of the constraints of hosting an event on a working airport tarmac, the event is limited in space and time. By adding the second plane, Claytor said the Special Olympics could eliminate a waiting list and allow more participants to sign up.
“We couldn’t do it without the airport, and United and FedEx’s support,” Claytor said. “We need the space for the planes, and of course all the people for the event.”