Heave-ho: University team pulls plane to benefit Special Olympics
Lauren Brown, Shirl Huffman and
Lester Reams pull the Airbus
What’s it like to pull a 164,000-pound airplane? Just ask Janet Jackson, a University of Phoenix College of Criminal Justice and Security instructor who teamed up with faculty, students and family members to participate in the 2011 Plane Pull, held August 20 at the Long Beach Airport. Proceeds from the fifth-annual event went to Special Olympics Southern California. Jackson, along with her teammates, pulled the FedEx Airbus 12 feet in less than 11.65 seconds — and raised $1,200 for Special Olympics through their efforts.
The first hurdle? Getting the plane to move at all. “It was overwhelming,” says Jackson. The event raised roughly $60,000 total for Special Olympics Southern California, and almost 30 teams competed, with 25 people on each team, says Eloise Crawford, the organization’s regional director. Each group paid $1,000 to enter the charitable competition, and then was granted two attempts at pulling the huge airplane 12 feet with a rope. Teams included the Southern Division of the California Highway Patrol, FedEx, University of Phoenix and many others. The Long Beach Police Department won the contest, pulling the plane 12 feet in 8.52 seconds. Sources say it was all competitive fun for a good cause.
University of Phoenix College of Criminal Justice and Security faculty, students and employees have banded together before for Special Olympics events. On Feb. 19, 2011 — when the temperature had dipped to a chilly 57 degrees — 35 Criminal Justice and Security faculty and employees at University of Phoenix Southern California Campus jumped into the Pacific Ocean during the Polar Plunge, another annual fundraising event. They have also participated in the Torch Run, a competition mirrored after the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.
James Henderson, campus college chair at University of Phoenix College of Criminal Justice and Security in Southern California, says the University’s faculty members, like many law enforcement officers worldwide, are big supporters of Special Olympics.
“We have participated in several of these Special Olympics events and I’ve never been more proud to be part of a University of Phoenix [group],” Henderson says about the plane pull. “When you are standing in front of this airplane it is huge. I thought there was no way our team could pull it, and I’ve never been so proud of us accomplishing something as a team.”
The University of Phoenix Plane Pull team included faculty who are also leaders in the criminal justice field — from the Los Angeles Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, the Orange County Probation office and other criminal justice divisions. Jackson is an assistant deputy city attorney for the City of Los Angeles and general counsel for the L.A. Fire Department. She’s also a University of Southern California graduate, so was proud when her team defeated three of the four USC teams in the Plane Pull competition.
“They were young, fit, mostly male-dominated teams,” she quips. “It just goes to show what experience and intellect does. We were by far the wiser team.”