The first ever National Special Olympic U.S. Games are one year away — but hosts of the Iowa event say they already know it will set one record. Organizers of the games that’ll be in Ames in July of 2006 say they plan to bring the special athletes to Iowa from all around the U.S. aboard donated corporate jets. Jack Pelton, the C-E-O of jet manufacturer Cessna is organizing the effort that he says will include some 400 Cessna Citation jets. Pelton says they’ll bring in and take home athletes from 35 states — making it the largest civilian peacetime airlift in the world. He says each flight will take between one-and-a-half to three hours each way. Each flight will take between four to seven athletes and he says in the two days those jets will be landing or taking off every 60 to 90 seconds over 16 straight hours. National Special Olympics President Bruce Pasternack says the airlift is another donation that makes the Special Olympics a quality program. He says, “Our athletes have a lot of challenges in life, and part of what we do is try to relieve all of those pressures.” He says they rely on the generosity of companies and individual donors to make the movement come alive and stay alive. Pasternack says the airlift is going to be as important to many of the intellectually disabled athletes as the competition itself. He says when the get off the airplanes they will be grinning from ear-to-ear, as for many of them it will be their first time on an airplane. The National Special Olympic U.S. Games run July 1st through the eighth next year on the Iowa State University campus in Ames.
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