Over 100 Knights of Columbus, along with their families and friends, fielded teams to pull a 127,000-pound Boeing 757 at Long Beach Airport as part of the 2023 Plane Pull Fundraiser for Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) on Sept 23.
In all, 61 teams representing police and fire departments and myriads of civic organizations, including five teams from the Knights of Columbus, competed to pull the UPS-donated aircraft 12 feet across the tarmac.
Brother Knights from several councils representing the Diocese of Orange were part of this year’s SOSC Plane Pull, including Fr. Peter J.J. Juba Council 4922 (Holy Family and La Purisima Parishes – Orange), Pope John Paul I Council 6020 (St. Bonaventure and St. Vincent de Paul Parishes– Huntington Beach), and Bishop William R. Johnson Council 9487 (Santiago de Compostela – Lake Forest).
Joe Hreish is a Special Olympics athlete that pulled with the California State Council team. He is also a member of Council 6020 and served as Honorary Co-Pilot for the California State Council Team.
Although none of the KofC teams bested the winning time of 5 seconds flat, California Knights of Columbus State Deputy Greg Marracq reminded us of what St. Teresa of Calcutta, better known as Mother Teresa, tells us:
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic Family Service Organization, and according to Marracq, “We strive to see the face of Jesus in everyone we meet.”
He added: “It would be only natural for the Knights to want to serve and support all our brothers and sisters with special needs that are competing in the world of sports. From the beginning, the legacy that the Knights share with Special Olympics was built through service and witnessing firsthand the courage, compassion, and competitive spirit of the athletes and their families.“
This is the 16th year for the Plane Pull event, and almost $270,000 was raised in total by Special Olympics Southern California for this year’s event.
All funds raised “help empower people with intellectual disabilities to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives,” according to a statement released by SOSC.
“The Plane Pull is one of the most anticipated SOSC events,” SOSC President and CEO Kelly Pond said in a statement. “Where else can you be on the airport tarmac pulling a real plane with other members of the community in a family friendly environment to raise money for Special Olympic athletes?”
SOSC Director of Foundation Relations Brandon Adachi said the Knights have partnered and supported SOSC since 2002:
“The Knights of Columbus and Special Olympics Southern California missions are nearly unparalleled in the heart and passion to empower and champion individuals with intellectual disabilities. “
Brother Knights have filled many areas of need with Special Olympics, including, but not limited to working as coaches, trainers, cheerleaders, drivers, helping with housing at major events, as well as feeding participants, fundraisers and promoters.
“By partnering, the Knights of Columbus and SOSC have been able to grow and sustain collective impact in the lives of Special Olympics athletes,” Adachi added.
For more information on the Knights of Columbus Orange County Chapter, go to https://ockc.net/ or Special Olympics Southern California.