Apple Valley Football Team Sets Benchmark
for Plane Pull Competition
CALIFORNIA, Nov. 5, 2007 — The
Hospital has finished its yearly maintenance and safety inspection at Southern California Logistical Airport (SCLA) and returned to the skies on Nov. 4. To say goodbye, the City of
Victorville and the Spring Valley Lake Lions Club held two events — a check ceremony and a plane pull — before the ORBIS aircraft and its multinational medical team left on their global mission to save sight and prevent blindness.
“This year, the ORBIS plane took off with a little extra money in the pocket, more equipment in the belly, and with the help of our mighty footballers and cheerleaders from
Valley,” explained Jim Worsham, marketing director, SCLA.
Gifts of support come in many shapes and sizes
The send-off began with a check presentation on Friday, Oct. 26, by former Victorville Mayor Mike Rothschild to ORBIS International Chairman Albert L. Ueltschi. Rothschild presented Ueltschi with a $145,000 super-sized check. The funds were raised over the past year through a series of community events organized by Spring Valley Lakes Lions Club and the Chamber of Commerce.
Ueltschi, enthused by the outpouring of community support for ORBIS, thanked those in attendance and issued a challenge: “For the next three years, whatever Victorville raises, I’ll match!”
On top of the sizable cash gift, which Ueltschi has pledged to double, several locally-based aviation companies, including Omni Air International and Tanker 10, donated services and equipment to the
Hospital. ORBIS’s global aviation sponsor, FedEx, covered the cost of the
Hospital’s annual maintenance check, while Honeywell and Boeing provided additional avionics parts and advanced equipment repairs.
Students pull for sight
Forty-seven of Victorville’s finest football players from Apple Valley High School put their weight, literally, behind the Flying Eye Hospital on Tuesday, Oct. 30, in the first-ever ORBIS plane pull. Tugging the approximately 300,000-pound plane using a 25 ft. rope, the Apple Valley Sun Devils set benchmarks for how long it takes to pull the aircraft 12 ft. with 47 people, and then set about trying to figure out the fewest number of people, which turned out to be 20, required to pull the aircraft 12 ft.
"In my briefing to the team, I said get down low and really get into the pull using your legs and back,” said Matt Rohrbaugh, Sun Devils defense coach. “When all 47 footballers were pulling we really got that plane moving.“
“We are just honored to be part of this plane pull,” Rohrbaugh said. “You guys at ORBIS do great work and we are happy to help.”
The results will be used as benchmarks for a similar event to be held in
Macau on Dec. 8. There, five teams, comprised of representatives from local businesses, will compete in the “Pull for Sight” with the intent of raising more than $90,000 for ORBIS programs.
Academy and Endeavor School of Exploration also got in on the ORBIS action. On Oct. 25, Dr.
Hospital medical director, made house calls to these schools to discuss with the students his global work. This is the second year Dr. Cherwek has visited the students, whom he writes regularly to while away on ORBIS missions.
“I feel welcome every time I come to Victorville,” Cherwek said. “My thanks and congratulations to the football team from Apple Valley High for helping ORBIS with the plane pull, and to the students of Endeavor and
Desert, who welcomed me into their classrooms and have been working for the past year to raise awareness in their community about ORBIS’s mission to prevent needless blindness. These students are the next generation of sight savers.”
Sight-saving missions ahead
On Nov. 4, the
Hospital departed SCLA for
Asia. Its first stop will be
Taiwan for a goodwill visit, followed by similar stops in Hong Kong and
Macau, where the “Plane Pull for Sight” will be held. In December, the aircraft will make its inaugural trip to
Cambodia for a two-week program, which FedEx is sponsoring. In 2008, the Flying Eye Hospital will spend the first part of the year in Asia — with programs scheduled in Myanmar, Vietnam, China, and Bangladesh — before moving on to Africa.
Follow the journey of the
Hospital and hear firsthand accounts from its sight-saving crew at www.ci.victorville.ca.us/about/orbis.html.
About ORBIS International
ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Since 1982, ORBIS programs have enhanced the skills of over 154,000 eye care professionals in 85 countries and have provided direct eye care treatment to more than 4.4 million people. To learn more about ORBIS, visit www.orbis.org.