By Heather Graves
APPLETON – Members of the Green Bay Rugby Club brought the muscle Saturday, Aug. 10, for the third Annual Pulling for Honor fundraiser at the Appleton International Airport.
The club came away with the first place title in its first year out, all while raising money for a great cause.
“The American Legion De Pere Post 230 approached us and asked us to pull on their behalf,” said Eric Osborn, Green Bay Rugby Club president. “We are always looking for ways to help out our community. So for us to do this was just natural. It was fantastic when we won.”
The club was one of 36 teams that participated in the event benefiting the Old Glory Honor Flight program.
The teams – consisting of up to 20 participants – had to pull a FedEx Boeing 757 jet, weighing in at 200,000 pounds, 12 feet down the runway. The team with the fastest time wins.
Not only did the Green Bay Rugby Club take home the first place title – they also broke the event’s pull record.
“Going into the event, the record for a pull was 10.8 seconds,” Osborn said. “So, we as a team decided that we had to pull in the single digits.”
Osborn said the crowd only fueled the club’s desire to succeed.
“As soon as we started our pull the crowd was electric, and when we finished and they said we pulled a 9.294 (seconds), everyone exploded,” Osborn said. “It was a truly amazing experience. One that the club will never forget.”
While the team practices weekly as it prepares for the start of its 2019 season, this really wasn’t something it could practice for.
“Nobody has a 200,000-pound plane laying around,” Osborn said. “However, with our sports background and rugby background it was relatively easy.”
All money raised from the event will allow veterans to take a trip to visit the memorials in Washington, D.C., through the Old Glory Honor Flight.
Osborn said organizers hoped to raise $85,000 from the event – but teams exceeded that goal raising $103,000.
“For us to be able to represent the De Pere American Legion Post was an absolute honor for every single person that was involved,” Osborn said. “We felt like we were not pulling for our team, but for all of the Legion members and veterans. We have been around as a club for over 45 years now, and for us to be able to represent not only the Legion Post, but also ourselves as a team and as individuals was a truly amazing experience.”
The day had a little more excitement for one teammate more so than the others.
The Green Bay Rugby team pulled first because one of their team members, Ed Borowitz, was getting married later that afternoon.
“So we had an early time so that Ed and his best man, who was also pulling at the event, could make the wedding,” Osborn said. “The wedding went off flawlessly and without a hitch, so at the end of the day everything went perfect.”
The Pulling for Honor event also included airfare giveaways, a kiddie plane pull, bounce house and inflatables, Old Glory veterans reuniting celebrations and veteran displays, food trucks and a beer tent.