Romeoville university hosted Special Olympics plane pull on Saturday

Taylor Wiscons: ‘We love Lewis and we’re excited to be raising money for these athletes’

A team from the Forest Preserve District of Will County participated in the Special Olympics Illinois Plane Pull on Saturday, April 29, 2023, at Lewis University in Romeoville.

More than 30 teams ignored Saturday’s drizzle to test their strength in an extreme tug-of-war competition at Lewis University in Romeoville.

Teams of 10 literally pulled together to move a commercial airplane as fast as they possibly could to raise money for Special Olympics Illinois.

Special Olympics Illinois, a non-profit organization, offers training and competition in 18 sports for more than 21,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and 9,000 athletes ages 2 to 7 with and without intellectual disabilities, according to the Special Olympics Illinois website. Training is year-round, the website said.

Taylor Wiscons, director of development for Special Olympics Illinois’ Law Enforcement Torch Run, said Plane Pull events have been held at various locations in Illinois for the last 15 years. Lewis University hosted the first one in 2019 and a second in 2022.

Wiscons said Lewis University previously raised just over $75,000 for Special Olympics Illinois with the goal raising $45,000 from Saturday’s event alone. She said, “We love Lewis and we’re excited to be raising money for these athletes.”

“All that money that is raised goes right back to this community so our athletes can experience some of the joy of sports,” Wiscons said and later adding. “Eight cents of every dollar goes straight back to athletes and their programs.”

More than 30 teams of 10 tested their strength at a Plane Pull at Lewis University in Romeoville on Saturday, April 29, 2023, to raise money for Special Olympics Illinois.

Support and healthy competition

Ryan Philips, department co-chair of aviation and transportation studies at Lewis University, said the 10-person team from his department is just one of three Lewis University teams represented at Saturday’s Plane Pull.

Philips said team registration overall was up from last year and said on Friday he expected more than 400 people at the event, which included families and spectators.

“It’s such a fun event and every year it’s growing,” Philips said.

So is it hard to pull a plane?

“You know, it’s funny,” Philips said. “When you first start tugging on the rope you think, ‘Oh, this isn’t going to move!’ Then all of a sudden it starts to move.”

Tom Dorsey, a police officer from the Romeoville Police Department, said “It sounds more daunting than it actually is.”

“It sounds way more way more impressive that we pulled a plane because of the size of it, but it’s easier than you think,” Dorsey said, “as long as you have the right team and teamwork.”

Dorsey said he’s also participated in various Law Enforcement Torch Run events, such as the Polar Plunge and Dunkin’ Cop on a Rooftop, starting when he worked Addison Police Department. Consequently, Dorsey brought his enthusiasm to the Romeoville Police Department.

“I have three kids and if they want to play a sport, they come to me and say, ‘I want to play softball,’ and I have the means to do that,” Dorsey said. “But some parents of special needs kids are so taxed with just the general day-to-day care, they don’t have any money to support them in their other endeavors of being a special Olympics athlete.”

Dorsey said he’s organized a Romeoville Police Department team for each Plane Pull at Lewis University every year. Dorsey said his team raised just over $26,000 over the past year for the Special Olympics.

He said the Special Olympics athletes are like one big family.

“I love to see the athletes come out and support each other even when they’re competing against each other,” Dorsey said.

Edith Reynolds of Dekalb, a Special Olympics Illinois athlete, Illinois Miss Amazing (teen division) in 2016, summed up the impact Special Olympics on athletes on her before the competition began.

Reynolds talked about the sports she’s participated in, the medals she’s earned, the confidence she’s acquired and the healthy sense of competition she’s gained.

“Let me win,” Reynolds said. “But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Edith Reynolds of Dekalb, a Special Olympics Illinois athlete, Illinois Miss Amazing (teen division) in 2016, summed up the impact Special Olympics on athletes on her before the Plane Pull competition began at Lewis University in Romeoville began on Saturday, April 29, 2023.

According to Special Olympics Illinois, the following teams participated in Saturday’s Plane Pull at Lewis University. Teams are listed in order of their scheduled appearance. For more information visit

· Will County Forest Preserve Police Public Safety

· DJJ Northern Ninjas Public Safety

· Code Red Public Safety

· Lockport Police Department Public Safety

· Warriors for Will County

· Windy City Ghostbusters

· Sodexo University

· Get Fit EGV

· F3 Plainfield

· F3 Plainfield Team 2


· Romeoville Police Department Public Safety

· RPW Utilities Public Safety

· Romeoville Spartans High School


· Joliet Junior College Police Department Public Safety

· Kendal County Sheriff’ Office Public Safety

· Lewis University Women in Business University



· Exelon EWS

· Alpha Eta Rho University

· BHS Football High School

· CoAST Megabyte Bombers University

· North Central College Campus Public Safety.

· Team Avelar

· Team Penske

· Veyer Logistics

· Shorewood Coppers Public Safety

· The Big 9 University

· Pit Pulls

· Lewis Alumni University

· Local 1866 Public Safety

· Local 1866 Cold Blooded Dreamers Public Safety

· Lewis Department of Aviation