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Pulling for the United Way a team effort

'Today's event shows how much of an impact we can make when we work together' Erika Lougheed United Way North Eastern Ontario

It may not have been a conventional way to move an aircraft on the runway, but then again, it wasn't your conventional fundraiser.

Sixteen teams, comprised of 15 members each, took to a corner of North Bay's Jack Garland Airport Friday morning for a 30 metre, timed pull of a CRJ aircraft. 

It was the inaugural 22 Wing CFB North Bay 'Pull for the United Way!' fundraising event. 

"We were going to pull a Dash-8, the one with the big propellers, but with 15 people it's way too easy. So we upped the difficulty and went with a jet,"  explained the brainchild behind the operation, Captain Gabe Gosselin, 22 Wing CFB North Bay.

"I got posted here in 2016 from CFB Trenton where we do a Herc Pull Challenge using a Hercules transport aircraft. So this year when I was named the chair for the United Way campaign for the Wing, me and my boss, Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Cyr, thought we could do it here with our community partners. It's an easy way to make a lot of money for the United Way and support our local community." 

The fundraiser was a coordinated effort between CFB North Bay, Voyageur Airways and the Jack Garland Airport.

Sharon Campbell is a member of the Voyageur Airlines all female team, 'Just Plain Awesome.'

Shortly into the pull, Campbell took one for the team, not letting her fall on the runway hold her group back.  A true competitor, Campbell scrambled out of the way of the jet, and just as quickly, got back in place to finish the pull. 

"It takes great agility I guess when it comes to falling, you have to be able to move out of the way quickly and recover," laughs Campbell "I think the initial pull was a little bit deceiving in terms of how much effort needed to be exerted, but once the aircraft started rolling it was pretty much just keeping the momentum going and keeping up with the running." 

Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Lachapelle Commanding Officer 21 Squadron and acting Wing Commander for 22 Wing dug in deep for his team as well. It's a cause very familiar to the base.  

"Through the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign, in the last seven years, we accumulated almost $100,000 in donations to the United Way campaign itself," said Lachapelle. "We canvas 100% of our people, asking them to donate from their paycheques, and help out at barbecues and things like that to donate." 

Erika Lougheed, is the Regional Navigator, for United Way North Eastern Ontario. She says last year in the North Bay-Parry Sound District, the organization provided support to 20 different causes, and over 100 across the entire North East region.

"The United Way is the biggest funder of non-profits other than the government. So what we do is, we collect the money and pool it into a local amount and then disperse it to non-profits who have applied in need of support," said Lougheed "We have provided support for everyone from St. John's Ambulance to the local PADDLE program, to the John Howard Society as well as many others. Today's event shows how much of an impact we can make  when we work together."

At the end of the day, the 'Voyageur Hurricans' won with a time of 15.72 seconds. But the real winner was United Way, which took away $2,500 to help support a variety of local causes.