UMass powerlifting team pulls JetBlue airplane for cancer research fundraiser By Bonnie Chen

The University of Massachusetts powerlifting team pulled a 150-passenger JetBlue airplane to work towards their goal of raising $5,000 for cancer research.

On Sept. 23, 18 members of the team participated in the annual “Pulling for Hope” challenge in which teams had to pull a JetBlue plane 24 feet across a Boston Logan International Airport runway in the shortest amount of time.

According to the American Cancer Society website, every participating team is responsible for fundraising a total of $5,000. The ACS is a “nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service,” according to its mission statement.

Each team was allowed two attempts at pulling the airplane, with the shorter time counting towards the overall competition. The JetBlue maintenance team won with a time of 9.10 seconds.

The UMass powerlifting team came in fifth of 17 teams with a time of 10.20 seconds and has already raised $3,811 for ACS cancer research and treatment for oncology patients.

“This was an amazing experience for our team,” said team secretary Amanda Carlisle. “Many of our members have been impacted by cancer, whether it be a family member or a friend who has fought cancer. Being able to use our strength as a team was such an amazing feeling.”

Carlisle continued, “It is so easy to get caught up in the rush of trying to constantly juggle school and training, that people fail to acknowledge those who are physically unable to maintain active lifestyle like we are. This event was a huge eye opener for many of our members, being able to hear firsthand from cancer survivors the everyday struggles that they were faced with.”

For team president Preston Trudeau, being a part of the challenge was an outlet of closure for his own experience dealing with family and friends who struggled with cancer.

“In my own personal case, one of my best friends’ mother, who was like a second mom to me, was a victim of breast cancer and his father is a survivor. In my own family, my grandmother was a victim to cancer,” Trudeau said. “In a way I feel that by helping to raise money for cancer research and treatment, I am trying to alleviate and prevent the hurt that I and my closest friends and relatives have felt.”

The team is fundraising until Nov. 1 through their American Cancer Society website and advertising through their social media with an incentive of two free round trip JetBlue flight tickets to any destination the airline flies to for those who donate $25 or more. Those that apply will get the opportunity to be entered into a raffle to win the tickets.

“As a team, we really value the saying ‘Stronger together,’” Carlisle said. “This value came to life as we were pulling that 150-passenger JetBlue airplane. One person couldn’t have pulled that plane alone. Together, we were able to pull that plane in 10 seconds!”

Bonnie Chen can be reached at bonniechen@umass.edu

(Photos courtesy of UMass powerlifting team)

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