By Nick Swedberg
Twenty seconds might not seem like a long time, but when you’re part of a team of six trying to pull a 19-ton truck down a 75-foot street of road, it can feel like an eternity.
“It doesn’t seem too bad until you look at the truck and realize it’s 38,000 pounds,” said Plainfield Police Commander Kevin Greco.
He and five members of the south suburban police department competed against 14 other teams in the first ever “Armored Truck Challenge” on Tuesday. Held in Plainfield, the competition raised money for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Illinois.
Although the police squad didn’t win, Greco said the team devised their strategy for how to pull the department’s MRAP vehicle by watching other teams competing ahead of them.
“With all that, in our first pull, I, of course, wound up on my butt,” Greco joked.
Special Olympics maintains close ties with local law enforcement across the state. Organizers in Plainfield raised about $1,500 from team registrations and other donations. Teams included members of Will County area law enforcement community and local businesses. The winning team, with a time of 18.62 seconds, was made up of employees from locally owned Daniel Richard Jewelers.
The event was another step taken by Plainfield police since it reintroduced its Special Olympics committee last year.
“We started Special Olympics back up at the Plainfield Police Department after being away from it for a couple of years,” said Chief John Konopek.
While the main goal was to raise money for Special Olympics athletes, the armored vehicle pull “gave us another opportunity … to intermix with the community,” he said.
For 2018, the department’s Special Olympics committee set a goal of raising $8,000, said Anna Marie Flood, one of the committee organizers. They already are close to hitting the mark. Reviving the Special Olympics fundraising last year helped carry over and drive interest into this year.
“I think the fever caught on,” Flood said.
The department has more events planned for this summer, and organizers are already thinking about bringing back the armored truck pull in 2019. This year’s competition was held during a car show hosted by the village, which helped draw about 300 people to the truck pull, organizers said.
“Everyone that was there had smiles on their face,” said Tori Buonamici, another committee organizer.