Teams pull fire truck to raise Relay for Life funds

Keri Thornton | Daily Press

Tahlequah firefighters won first place at the Relay for Life Kick-off event, Roll Over Cancer. Teams had to pull the 40,000 pound firetruck 12 feet in the least amount of time.

Relay for Life of Cherokee County launched its first kick-off event of the year - Roll Over Cancer - Saturday under Morgan Street Pavilion.

Jerrie Brown, sponsorship lead for Relay for Life, has been a caregiver to many family members. She came up with the idea of Roll Over Cancer when she noticed no events in Tahlequah include a fire engine pull.

"Last year, I realized we had not done anything as a kick-off event and cancer patients fight 24/7 365. We can't just raise money a couple of months a year," said Brown.

Brown started to research and found that some places in Oklahoma do engine pulls of different stripes, and there are many pros to getting the community together for the event.

"Some are 12 foot, some are 50 or 100 feet, and they'll do it down main street," she said. "What my vision is, if we can get people involved and make it an annual event, then it'll bring the community together. It brings the voice of what the American Cancer Society does, and so many people do not know that ACS gave $1.5 million to cancer research right here in Oklahoma."

Her goal for a rebuilding year is for area residents to learn what they can do and where they can go if affected by cancer.

"ACS does a lot of things, and this was something unique and different we thought we would do," she said.

The four teams were timed to pull for 12 feet a Tahlequah fire truck that weighed over 40,000 pounds.

"It's not that far, and Woodall was very generous to lend us their tug-of-war rope, so I feel like this whole thing has been a collaboration," said Amy Lair, Relay for Life event lead.

Lair said she hopes this event can be done for years to come.

"This would get us some momentum for next year, and we've not really done any fundraisers for our kick-off event before. But this year, we wanted it to be a fundraiser," said Lair.

During the engine pull, teams lined up with a rope attached to the fire truck, which was driven by Tahlequah firefighter Anthony Margarit. At the sound of the horn, teammates pulled the truck 12 feet as quickly as they could.

The winner of the engine pull received certificates and a traveling trophy. Brown said the winning team will participate next year to see if they will continue to hold the trophy.

Four teams came together for the pull: three 10-man teams and a five-man team, including Tahlequah Firefighters, Welling FD Family, Hulbert Football Team, and Northeastern State University Fit-Meat Heads.

Ten-man team Tahlequah Firefighters won first place and pulled the truck 12 feet in 6.16 seconds. The Hulbert football team came in second when it pulled the truck in 7.11 seconds. Welling FD Family pulled the truck in 7.28 seconds, and the five-man team, NSU Fit-Meat Heads, pulled it in 13.45 seconds.

Even though the event had some last-minute changes with time and location, Lair and Brown were happy with how it came together.

"I feel good that there is a turnout and I would have liked more teams, but we had some little quirks and it happens. It's the first event, and if we promote it the right way, next year, people will be looking forward to it," said Brown.

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