Plane pull hangs hope by a rope

Dr. Bernie Maria (from left), Ashley Nix, Lauren Sparks, Corey Sparks, David Hersch, Greg Damron, Austin Nix, Kim Basso, Glenn Bedell, Emily Mumford, Meera Dase, Andrew Mumford, Mary Gaffney, Dr. Josh Smith, Jen Thornton, Joe Thornton, Daniel Stewart, Jim Mumford, Catherine Stewart and Clay Trover competed in the 2011 FedEx Plane Pull, benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta. The 2012 Plane Pull will be April 21.

An unusual game of tug-of-war could bring families of sick children future peace of mind by raising money for the Ronald McDonald House of Augusta.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta, Comcast and Georgia Health Sciences will present the annual Plane Pull on April 21. Teams of 20 volunteers will compete to pull a 155,000-pound FedEx Boeing 727 airplane 12 feet in the least amount of time.

“It’s always a fun way to give back, a rare chance to pull a plane,” said House Associate CeCe Stetz.

Dozens of teams compete every year, from Ipswitch’s configuration of computer techs to the financiers at Georgia Bank & Trust. The Young Professionals of Aiken and of Augusta both have teams; likewise, Petsch Respiratory Services and Gold Mech. The teams raised about $35,000 for the house last year.

But Stetz said her favorite teams to watch are those comprised of medical sector employees.

“I get a big kick out of seeing the hospital personalities support this. The kids see them on a different level. The doctors give them what they can in one area, but this is another contribution they make to the children,” Stetz said.

Ninety-eight percent of Ronald McDonald House guests have children who are being treated at the Georgia Health Sciences Children’s Medical Center. The charity provides housing at little or no cost to those families. So the two organizations work closely together.

Last year, four GHSU teams competed: Hope on a Rope, comprised of members of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; Peds Puller 1 and Peds Puller 2, made up of physicians, staff and managers from the GHS Children’s Medical Center; and Little Brave Hearts, a team from GHS Pediatric Cardiology & the Children’s Heart Program Volunteer Council.

This is a crucial time for the Ronald McDonald House of Augusta, as the organization embarks on a capital campaign to rebuild their facilities on the GHS campus, so they can better serve the families who stay with them while their children are being treated at the GHS Children’s Medical Center.

For more information, call 706-724-5901 or visit rmhcaugusta.org.

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