Chicagoland Residents, Law Enforcement Officials to Participate in Plane Pull at O’Hare Airport

Participants Test ‘Tug-of-War’ Skills by Pulling 90-Ton Plane to Benefit Special Olympics Illinois

CHICAGO, Ill.  – Teams of local law enforcement agencies and the general public will participate in a larger than life tug-of-war challenge at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. They will face off with either a UPS Airbus A300 or United Airlines 737 aircraft at O’Hare International Airport for the benefit of Special Olympics Illinois. The Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull includes teams from law enforcement agencies, fire departments, private companies, high schools, colleges, fraternal groups and teams of friends and family. The Opening Ceremony is at 8 a.m.

“It’s great to see people supporting Special Olympics programs in Illinois and we’re excited to see them test their strength against a 90-ton airplane,” said Matt Johnson, Special Olympics Illinois Vice President – Development & Donor Relations. “In addition to those participating in the Plane Pull, we encourage family and friends to join in the spirit by supporting their loved ones and Special Olympics programs by making a donation to Special Olympics Illinois by visiting”

Registration is now open online at

Check-in begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10., when team captains can turn in their donations and pick up their T-shirts and other materials. New teams can still sign up that morning.

The event will be held on the tarmac next to the United Airlines Cargo Facility located on the south airfield of O’Hare International Airport. The area is located in between two East-West parallel runways – offering a unique perspective of planes arriving and taking off on one of the world’s busiest airfields.

Teams will be divided into three different divisions – Open Division is ideal for companies, school teams, church groups, clubs, friends and families; Public Safety Division is for law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, DNR, DOC and military personnel; and the Hotel Division created by popular demand. Each team of 20 will attempt to pull the plane a distance of 12 feet, with the top finisher from each division facing off for one final pull to determine the Grand Champion. To participate, each team is asked to raise a minimum of $1,000 ($50 per person) for Special Olympics Illinois. Teams raising more will be eligible for incentive prizes at the $2,500, $4,000 and $6,000 levels.

UPS and United Airlines are Presenting Sponsors of the 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull. Other sponsors are Chicago Department of Aviation, City of Chicago, HMS Host, Durham School Services, Barilla Pasta, IlliniCare Health, FOX 32 Chicago, TD Ameritrade and Home Run Inn.  Because Special Olympics athletes compete free of charge, all money raised by the Plane Pull will directly assist in their training and competition.

“The Chicago Department of Aviation is honored and proud to once again partner with Special Olympics Illinois, UPS and United Airlines to host this unique and exciting community event at O’Hare International Airport,” said Ginger S. Evans, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation. “I want to thank all of the volunteers and participants who come out each year to support this event and help raise funds for Special Olympics.”

All media must RSVP in advance by contacting Gregg Cunningham by phone at 773-686-3700 or by email via

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the single largest year-round fundraising vehicle benefiting Special Olympics Illinois. The annual intrastate relay and its various fundraising projects have two goals: to raise money and to gain awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Illinois. The Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised $40 million over 30 years while increasing awareness of Special Olympics Illinois athletes and their accomplishments.

Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 19 sports for more than 22,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 20,000 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics changes lives by empowering people with intellectual disabilities to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Special Olympics programs enhance physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encourage family and community support.  If you are interested in learning more about Special Olympics Illinois, volunteering or providing financial support to help make Special Olympics programs possible, contact your local Special Olympics agency, call 800-394-0562.

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Alexandra McMillin, Special Olympics Illinois, 630-942-5621

Michele Evans, Special Olympics Illinois, 309-660-8497

Chicago Department of Aviation,, 773-686-3700