Inaugural Firetruck Pull raises $15,000 for Special Olympics


Zach Spicer | For The Tribune

A 37,000-pound firetruck sits in the parking lot at Walmart Supercenter in Seymour.

One at a time, teams of up to 10 people take their position along a 100-foot-long natural fiber rope that’s attached to the front bumper of the firetruck.

A 3-2-1 countdown is followed by the sound of the firetruck’s horn, and the team members pull with all of their might until the horn sounds again.

The goal is to be the fastest to pull the firetruck 50 feet.

At the end of the inaugural Firetruck Pull presented by Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County and the Seymour Fire Department on April 13, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department team emerged victorious with a time of 11.53 seconds.

The 14 participating teams could pull up to three times. The sheriff’s department team’s 12.16 seconds was the fastest time in the first round, and their 11.53 in the second round held through to the end.

Coming in second place was Jordan’s Barbell Club, which went from 13.31 in the first round to 11.81 in the second.

“Our reaction to winning the event was pure joy for the simple fact that there was so much competition there, it made it all that much more sweet when we actually won,” said Chief Deputy Dustin Steward, captain of the sheriff’s department team.

“The competition was so fierce that we just barely won, but we did win,” he said.

While winning was the team’s favorite part of the day, Steward said, “In the end, just seeing the smile on our team and everyone else’s faces made it all worth it.”

Later Saturday, Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County announced on its Facebook page that more than $15,000 had been raised through the teams and event sponsors.

The team raising the most money was First Responders & Family, which brought in $3,455.

That team and the sheriff’s department team both agreed to accept a plaque instead of prizes. They wanted the money to stay with the local Special Olympics program, which provides athletic training and competition in Olympic-type sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities ages 8 and up.

Money raised will help send Jackson County athletes and volunteers to the Special Olympics Indiana Summer Games, which is set for June 7 to 9 in Terre Haute.

“It was important for us to put together a team because we wanted to be involved in such a special event,” Steward said. “Getting to be a part of raising money and sending the athletes to (Summer Games) was an absolute no-brainer for us. We love good competition, we love raising money and we love to have fun, even more especially when it benefits something like Special Olympics.”

Tabitha Myers, captain of the First Responders & Family team, said while they wanted to win the pull, their goal from the beginning was to raise the most money.

“Each of our members played a key role in making it happen, whether it be gathering donations or purchasing a T-shirt, which we put together with all of our sponsors on the back, which was a big profit toward reaching our goal,” she said.

Myers said the team couldn’t have done it without the sponsors, including two who donated $500 each. “We not only had local businesses and citizens of Jackson County sponsor us, but we also had coworkers of ours that couldn’t participate since they were on duty but wanted to help out,” Myers said.

“We also had several from Martinsville, where Don and Angie (Mink) live, sponsor our team,” she said.

Myers and Mink, who both work for Jackson County Emergency Medical Services, decided to participate after seeing the post for the event come up on Facebook.

“We thought, ‘What a great way to support our community and also get a group of us outside of work together to raise money for a great organization local in our community,’” Myers said.

While they were gathering their team, she said it was great to see so many people excited to participate, but she didn’t realize how so many on the team had a special place for Special Olympics in their hearts.

“Don’s wife, Angie, has a special needs brother, David Wilson, who participates in Special Olympics where he lives and also has a sister who is no longer with her, Katie Wilson, who was special needs,” Myers said. “Jaime Bliven was also a member of our team who had a twin sister, Jennifer Ball, who is no longer with us who was also special needs.”

Their names were listed at the top of the team’s T-shirts.

“We pulled in honor of David, who was able to come with Angie and Don and cheer us on the day of the event, and also in memory of Katie and Jennifer,” Myers said.

Another award presented at the event was for the Special Olympics athlete who raised the most money. That went to Dylan Bridges, who raised $470.

He was one of two athletes who put together their own team. The other was Alysha Sandlin.

There also was one team consisting of eight athletes, Special Olympics Indiana President and CEO Jeff Mohler and Miss Southern Indiana Teen USA Aleah Dean. There was another team with Special Olympics athletes and volunteers.

Framed certificates were presented to the Seymour Fire Department and Seymour Police Department for partnering with Special Olympics for the event and to Walmart for hosting the event and selling food and drinks.

“Partnerships on community events like this is a powerful way for the Seymour Fire Department and the Seymour Firefighters Union to support the community and the athletes while raising funds and awareness to further support the organization,” Assistant Fire Chief Anthony Walker said.

For the department, he said helping Special Olympics means a great deal.

“It’s a chance to engage with the community, support a noble cause and witness the joy and determination of the athletes,” he said. “It reinforces the department’s commitment to service and community engagement. I really enjoyed seeing the competitive drive and camaraderie among the athletes.”

The event also included children’s activities and a first responder vehicle display with an ambulance and firetrucks. One was an SFD ladder truck with an American flag hanging on the bucket over the pull area.

This fundraiser was an Athlete Leadership University leadership capstone project for Jackson County athlete Dale Hickman.

Before handing out the certificates, he announced this will be an annual fundraiser.

“I hope more teams will get involved next year to continue raising more money and making this event bigger and bigger each year,” Steward said. “It also feels pretty good to know that teams will be after us now, making us work harder every year from here on out to hold onto our Special Olympics Firetruck Pull championship.”

Myers looks forward to participating again, too.

“We can’t wait to get a team together again next year and hope to top this year’s total and raise even more money for Special Olympics of Jackson County,” she said. “Our goal from here on out is to be the top team and raise the most money for the event.”

No posts to display