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Team First Air, the winning team in the mixed event Hercules Pull Challenge, work together to pull the Hercules plane at the DND/RCMP hanger on Sept. 10. - photo courtesy of Lea Martin

A heavy load
18 teams compete in the Hercules pull

Heather Lange
Northern News Services
Published Friday, September 16, 2011

Eighteen teams heaved with all their might over the weekend as they attempted to move a 90,000-pound Hercules plane 4.5 metres in the fastest time possible.

That Special Olympics NWT is able to deliver their programs is due to the Hercules Pull Challenge fundraiser, which just finished its fifth annual event. The pull took place at the DND/RCMP hangar on Sept. 10 and is organized by the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) NWT chapter along with First Air.

The winner of the men's event was the First Air team with a time of 8.85 seconds. First Air also won in the mixed event with a time of 9.96 seconds.

David Morganm manager of heavy airlift-charter sales at First Air, said the Hercules Pull Challenge is one of First Air's largest sponsored events.

"We definitely have a strong connection to the Special Olympics and the LETR, here and it's one of our premier events that we really like to get behind," said Morgan.

The winner of the women's event was the Mad Hatter Rehabers from Stanton Territorial Hospital with a time of 13.94 seconds.

Lea Martin, event organizer and director of the LETR said this year's teams had a lot of spirit and spunk.

"In the five years that I have been involved with this, this is definitely the largest number of teams that came in uniforms or with matching T-shirts on," said Martin.

The most spirited team went to the Aurora Devils, a team made up of students from Aurora College. Before they pulled, they got the crowd warmed up with a song and dance routine to YMCA.

Martin said between 400 and 500 people came out which included the 250 pullers. Each team was made up of 15 people.

The event fundraised $19,000 for Special Olympics NWT, a little less than the $24,000 raised last year.

"There is a 90,000 pound reason this couldn't happen unless (First Air) donated the Herc," said Martin. "After the tragedy in Resolute, I contacted them to see if they still wanted to go ahead with the event and they were 150 per cent on board."

Jane Arychuk, president of Special Olympics NWT, said the money raised is crucial to help with their high travelling costs.

"We were thrilled with the amount fundraised but we still never have enough money. We are constantly scrimping and looking at who needs to travel to national events.

"We cover all expenses for our athletes which is different from other sports organizations," said Arychuk.

The organization also needs more volunteers to travel with its athletes.

"For many of our athletes, it is their only opportunity to take part in sporting events and it means a lot to them. They love to travel, they love to take part in

competitions," said Arychuk.

The fundraising event by the LETR will be the Freezin' for a Reason polar plunge at Long Lake in May. Since 2006, when the NWT chapter of LETR opened, it has fundraised $145,000 for Special Olympics NWT.

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