Temperatures dipped below zero for one of the coldest Law Enforcement plane pull events in its history, but Yellowknife families packed the airport tarmac in support of the annual fundraiser.
The event, now in its 12th year, is held every September to support the Special Olympics NWT.
The event raised $15556, which goes to Special Olympics Nwt programming. This includes five year-long sports, youth sports skills programs, and three mini-sports programs – snowshoeing, track and field and golf.
“I thought (attendance) this year was excellent,” Elkin said. “With the numbers of teams there and amount of people to support those people – there were a lot. I haven’t seen a crowd like that for a long time. I was really pleased because it has been about three or four years since we had a crowd. And that was despite the weather.”
Sixteen teams with at least 10 people participated. While there was no count done on the number of people who attended, Elkin said when taking into account participants and their supporters, there were likely 250 people who showed up this year.
Summit Air was the main sponsor of the event and provided a 54,000 lb Avro RJ85 plane, which is about 20,000 lbs. lighter than planes in previous years, Elkin said. Over the past decade First Air has provided a 75,000 lb. Hercules which has required teams of 15.
Registration for the new season of Special Olympics NWT starts this week, but the end of year figures for the 2017/18 season had 42 coaches and 36 athletes.
The plane pull is the first major fundraiser of the Special Olympics NWT year and one of three that the organization has been involved in to raise money. The other two have included the Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge at Long Lake, which takes place in May, and the Convoy for a Cause, which involves ice truckers parading from Kam Lake, around Jackfish Lake, through the downtown and ending at the fieldhouse. The latter fundraiser has not been held for the past three to four years has not been held.
Dave Brothers, vice-president with Clark Builders raised the most money as an individual with $2,500. His company had three teams (two men’s teams and one women’s) and raised the most money at $7,000 this year. The plane pull is a fundraising activity that the company looks forward to every year, Brothers said.
“We didn’t win the race but we won the most money raised this year at over $7,000,” Brothers said.
“It is a great cause and it is an opportunity as a company to build a team and get everybody out. We had 30 people out there today pulling with kids, wives and families.”
Women of Team North was a new featured team this year which was made up of several women from different divisions with the Canadian military. Team captain Jessie Drown said the event was a good chance to show what female participants can do.
“This is the first women’s team from different units of the Canadian military, but we did it because it is just a fun thing to do,” Drown said. “It is a good way to show the faces of women in the military.”