The Paducah Big Brown Truck Pull hauled in a sizable sum last weekend with more than $61,000 raised to benefit local and state Special Olympics.
A large crowd of spectators, supporters and Special Olympics athletes flocked to the Paducah riverfront Saturday evening to watch 15-member teams pull a loaded 18-wheeler UPS truck 12 feet in the shortest time possible. The event had teams from different organizations and businesses participate, including Paducah Fire Department, Paducah Bank and UPS.
It raised $61,781 at the end of the night, and organizers think that amount will increase to around $65,000 after the final tally.
"To my knowledge, I think this was a record-setting year," said Laura Miller, the west regional director for Special Olympics Kentucky. "I know this far surpasses what we had raised in the last several years, so I do believe this is one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- we've ever had."
Miller called this year's Big Brown Truck Pull "wonderful" and praised the organizing committee, as its focus on team recruitment paid off. Thirty-one teams participated Saturday compared to 19 last year, Miller said.
She said proceeds will go toward supporting McCracken County Special Olympics and the state-level Special Olympics. The local organization features 80 to 100 athletes and they compete in softball, track and field, basketball, bowling and cheerleading. Many of the athletes participated in opening ceremonies and took part in honorary truck pulls to kick off the event.
"We like this event for so many reasons," Miller said. "Of course, it provides the needed funds and we feel like it's a great community and team-building event for the businesses and civic groups that take part."
Teams and individuals competed in various divisions and categories.
The winners were: C-Plant Federal Credit Union, Junior Division; Jason's Collision Center, Co-Ed Division; Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership - "MotherTruckers," Women's Division; Beltline Electric Company, Men's Division; 50 Shades of Paint, Spirit Award; Best Costume, NeuroRestorative; Kenneth Caldwell in memory of Kyle Young ($1,655 raised), Top Fundraising Special Olympics Athlete; Frank Rinaudo - 50 Shades of Paint ($2,867 raised), Top Fundraiser; and FRNP "MotherTruckers" ($8,116 raised), Top Fundraising Team.
Chris Henderson, manager at Jason's Collision Center, said the business is a three-time winner of the Co-Ed Division title, explaining that team members practiced using tow trucks. He also said supporting Special Olympics events means a lot to them.
"We put a lot of effort into it," he said. "We do a little bit of training beforehand."
Miller concluded that Special Olympics is "very appreciative" of its sponsors, noting that $14,500 came from sponsor support.
"We recognize that individuals and businesses have lots of ways that they can spend their time and they can spend their money. We're always very humbled and appreciative when they choose Special Olympics to support."