The Middletown community last week proved once again that it’s willing to pull its own weight – and a little more – in the fight against cancer. Forty-thousand pounds more, to be exact.
The Middletown community last week proved once again that it’s willing to pull its own weight – and a little more – in the fight against cancer.
Forty-thousand pounds more, to be exact.
That’s the approximate weight of the Walmart tractor-trailers that 11 teams took turns pulling on May 7 during Middletown High School’s fifth-annual Tractor Pull fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s local Relay for Life event next month.
“The original idea behind the tractor pull was to create something that brought people together, because that’s what I love about Relay for Life” said Michael Husni, a Spanish and drama teacher at the school who founded the tractor pull. “Now, I think, it’s become a real spectacle and I love that people might be driving by on Route 299 and look over and say, ‘What is going on there?’”
The main focus of the fundraiser is a competition in which groups of about 10 people pay $80 for the right to pull the 18-wheelers 20 feet. The teams face off in head-to-head matchups with the fastest teams moving on in the double-elimination contest.
This year, teams of cheerleaders, girls lacrosse players and cross-country runners faced off against horse farm employees, firefighters and roller derbyists.
A group called the Diamond State Widows, made up of the husbands of competitors in the Diamond State Roller Girls, captured the title in a final match with firefighters from Volunteer Hose Company.
“It’s not always the strongest team that wins but the one that uses the best teamwork,” Husni said. “Like cancer treatment, our participants face what seems to be an insurmountable challenge at the onset. But with the right support and motivation, they find they're able to move these monster trucks. Whether you win or lose, that’s incredibly empowering.”
It’s also highly entertaining, according to some of the nearly 100 spectators who attended this year’s event.
“It’s so cool to watch,” Middletown High junior Ethan Mile said. “The best part is when you get to see a boys baseball team lose to a girls roller derby team or something like that. But it’s also a great way to hang out with your friends while doing something positive.”
In addition to the truck pull competition, this year’s event also provided spectators with a chance to swing a sledgehammer at a junked car and the opportunity to take a peek inside a helicopter used by Christiana Care’s LifeNet Air-Medical Transport team.
But the highlight of the event for many students came after the competition when senior Jacob Bricker pulled one of the big rigs on his own.
“Some other guys have done it before me, but this was my first time, so I wasn’t totally sure I could do it,” the 5’11”, 300-pound defensive tackle for the Cavalier football team said after successfully pulling the tractor trailer. “I think the trick is to stay low and just keep pulling because it doesn’t feel like it’s moving at all at first, but it gets a little easier as you go.”
Husni said this year’s event raised between $400 and $500, which faculty members and the school’s honor society will donate to the American Cancer Society at this year’s Relay For Live event in Silver Lake Park on June 6.