When thinking about exercise, getting together with a few friends and trying to pull a 30,000-pound jet plane may not be the first thing to leap to mind. Regardless of how it appears, that’s what happened at the 2019 Plane Pull and Fly-In on Saturday morning as a fundraiser for Special Olympic programming in Iredell County.

Fourteen teams decked out in everything from active wear to blue jeans crowded out front of hangars Statesville Regional Airport eager to flex some muscle. To participate, each team had to raise at least $500 by the day of the event. Each team was given two attempts to pull the jet 25-feet; the winners would be whichever group had the fastest average.

An Embraer ERJ-145, the silent and hefty object of attention, rested with sunlight rolling of its roof and a rope tied to the nose of plane.

Groups of various sizes and ages lined up to move the jet; some did it with surprising ease, but most showed a fair amount of effort on their faces.

Jenny Hall is the Exceptional Children teacher at Mooresville High School. She said the event is special to her being she has a family member with autism.

“It’s the most rewarding (thing) to show our athletes that other people support them, instead of just the coaches, so that they get that confidence,” she said.  “A lot of them have kind of lower self-esteem to start with. With seeing this much support, it really helps them see that people think that they’re important; and they are. They can do stuff that any other person can do.”

The winning team was The Deplorables with an average time of about 11 seconds. Event organizer Jordan Huiber shared with crowd that the initial goal of $10,000 had been crushed; over $13,000 was raised.

Huiber mentioned that one aspect of the fundraiser wasn’t simply to be a display of strength.

“I think we often forget about the fun of play,” he said. “Not everything has to be formal, and I think this is a really good opportunity for people to do that. Everyone who came out today got an opportunity to do something that they may have never done. Some folks have never been to airport (and) few people have ever pulled a 30,000 pound plane and a few people maybe have never met our athletes. By all accords, we’re thrilled.”

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