Teams pull together to raise money for Special Olympics

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- First responders show up to accidents and in fire trucks and tactical vehicle riding on the inside. Have you ever seen them on the outside, pulling those vehicles with a rope?

You could almost call it a game of tug of war between a team of people and a fire truck. That’s what it looked like with people using a rope to pull the vehicles several yards in a parking lot. Participants say it was all in good fun but it also brought awareness to a special group of people.

The third annual Hero’s Pull for Special Olympics Sunday wasn’t just a show of strength or a race against the clock. Special Olympics athletes say the crowds in the parking lot at Splash Cove Park in Shawnee are their cheerleaders.

“I really enjoy the team. It’s a one-of-a-kind thing for me, and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Special Olympics athlete Alex Gaulke.

Firefighters, police officers and other community groups are raised money by donating as a team for a chance to compete to see who can pull a fire truck and tactical vehicle several yards, in the fastest time.

“It’s all about Special Olympics and that’s people with intellectual disabilities,” explained Sr. Vice President of Communications Donna Zimmerman, with Special Olympics Kansas.

Athlete Nathaniel Drake shared a personal thank-you.

“My Dad’s actually with Olathe Police Department. He’s been a detective for 26 years now. His guys are out there doing it for us, so we thank them and we hope and with them luck,” said Drake.

Peggy Schmitt, a parent of a Special Olympics athlete, said the parents stick together. She also explained how the community support keeps the Special Olympics Kansas Shawnee Storm Team going.

“It means a lot to our team. We always need money for everything we want to do for the athletes. The kids and athletes are thrilled to get together with anything we do. They love being together and they need each other,” said Schmitt.

Organizers told us money raised Sunday will help the group pay for meals, medals and ribbons, and venue and equipment costs. Sunday’s goal was $10,000 and the group believes it made that mark.

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