Pulling for Wishes Plane Pull

Republic Airline is a strong supporter of several nonprofit and charitable organizations across the state benefiting children, the fight against hunger and various cancer awareness initiatives, among others.  Key partners include the Indiana Children’s Wish FundRiley Children’s Foundation, and Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent.

Click here for our 2018 Plane Pull event packet!

Plane Pull raises record $500K+ for Indiana charities, hospital

Event reaches new heights with nearly $2M raised since fundraiser started in 2011

Half a million dollars! That’s the record grand total of this year’s Pulling for Wishes Plane Pull and companion evening Gala – and we raised that in just one day! That’s right, the events of April 22 pulled in more than $500,000, a record haul that far surpassed last year’s unprecedented total of $430,000! Equally impressive: Since the Plane Pull started in 2011, Republic has raised more than $2 million to help benefit the nonprofit Indiana Children’s Wish Fund (ICWF), which has granted thousands of wishes such as vacations and celebrity visits to children suffering life-threatening or terminal illnesses. And this year, Republic expanded its commitment to kids by adding new beneficiaries of Riley Children’s Foundation (RCF) and Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent (PMCH), both premiere Indianapolis-based organizations renowned for their child initiatives.

VIDEOS: Click here for a special RJET TV episode.  l  Click here for more video highlights.

PHOTOS: Click here for Plane Pull action.  l  Click here to see the Gala with Frank Caliendo 


“It truly was our best event yet. We are so lucky and thankful to have such generous sponsors and supporters,” said Amy Chiappe (right), director of Inflight and the event’s lead organizer. “Of course, we couldn’t have pulled it off without our passionate and committed Associates – pun intended.”

It was a year of several other firsts, too: a record number of financial sponsors; the largest Kids Zone ever, featuring free interactive games, a Tiny House and the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile, among other vendor attractions; mascots including Boomer from the Indiana Pacers; static aircraft displays inside the hangar; more than 100 silent and live auction items, the largest number ever; and a sold-out dinner and live auction tent experience starring superstar comedian/impressionist Frank Caliendo.

This year’s top finishers, pull times and prizes:

  • First place: Fitness Garage Pulling for Mason (a team honoring Wish child Mason Unton of Westfield, Ind.), 7.34 seconds, 20,000 miles on Southwest Airlines.
  • Second place: APEX, 7.80 seconds, 10 $100 gift cards to Prime 47 Carmel restaurant (host of the evening Gala)
  • Third place: Carmel Fire Department, 7.81 seconds, 10 $20 gift cards to Ambrosia restaurant in Indianapolis. (CFD placed first in 2011 and 2014)
  • Best team costume: Heico Aerospace, 10 Embraer aircraft models

The record pull time of 6.59 seconds set by the LIDS Foundation Inc. in 2015 still stands.

An estimated 1,500 people, including hundreds of competitors on 46 pull teams, turned out for the competition at the Indianapolis Maintenance Center. The E175 used in the team tug-of-war took on a new look this year, too: Our Republic-branded aircraft was covered with huge logos of our top sponsors, a decorative scheme cooked up by Director of Engineering Frank Stevens and his team that became a popular photo backdrop for many of the teams.

The evening Gala drew a capacity crowd of about 450 people, and included remarks by Republic CEO and President Bryan Bedford, as well as Riley Hospital representative Dr. Carmella Evans-Molina and PMCH CEO and President Dr. Hossain Marandi. The evening’s most poignant and emotional address, however, came when Pam Frenzel shared the story of her son, Tyler, who enjoyed a Wish Fund trip to Disneyland before passing away from leukemia in 2004. The Plane Pull is dedicated to Tyler’s memory.

The program also included the bitter-sweet recognition of ICWF Executive Director Terry Ceasar-Hudson, who announced her retirement after 34 years with the Indianapolis-based group, as well as a hilarious Caliendo performance that showcased his spot-on impressions of NBA star Charles Barkley, Presidents Donald Trump, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, NFL coach/TV commentator John Madden, among others.

“It’s impossible to name everyone who helped make this year such a success; every department across our system played an important role,” Chiappe said. “But once again, a special thank you goes out to Sr. Manager of Onboard Services Christine Worthley and IMC Manager Tim Simpson and his team of IMC Mechanics who worked logistical magic for such a massive event, as well as Compensation Analyst Geralyn Koehler and AOG Manager Judy Michels for coordinating the morning silent auction. A big shout-out also goes out to those who came in from other bases to volunteer or participate on a pull team.”

The next Pulling for Wishes Plane Pull is tentatively scheduled for late April 2018 in Indianapolis.


Compiled by Corporate Communications Manager Scott Thien. Inquiries? Email Corporate Communications at or call (317) 471-2470.


plane pull beneficiaries