Members of the Park Ridge Police Department saw their hopes dashed when an apparent glitch prevented them from pulling a 90-ton UPS cargo plane during last month’s Plane Pull for Special Olympics Illinois.
But the team learned earlier this month that it had received a special award nonetheless.
Special Olympics Illinois recognized the police officers, staff and others who made up the 20-member team with a Team Spirit Award.
“Despite some of the issues with the plane that morning (and) the other issues leading up to the event, your team didn’t let this interfere, had a great attitude and we thank you,” said an email from Matt Johnson, director of marketing and events for Special Olympics Illinois, to team captain and Park Ridge police officer Julie Genualdi.
The Park Ridge Police Department team kicked off the Sept. 21 plane pull fundraiser at O’Hare Airport, but when the members struggled to move the aircraft even a foot, a positioning problem was blamed. After two attempts, the team opted not to try for a third time.
Members of the Maine South football team, forming a separate group, ended up winning the open division of the competition.
Park Ridge Mayor David Schmidt was recently critical of the police department’s participation, saying he had assurances that no employees would be doing the actual pulling and that Maine South High School football players would make up the team.
The police department team formed after Schmidt expressed concerns about liability issues if city employees were injured while participating in events like the Plane Pull for Special Olympics. He was given a legal opinion that the city would not be liable for workers compensation claims because the employees would be participating during their off time.