Editorial: Citations to lift Special Olympians’ spirits and more

 - October 5, 2006, 2:19 PM

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” This is the Special Olympics athletes’ oath, and Citation owners and operators can help give them a chance to make the attempt.

Last month, Cessna Aircraft president, chairman and CEO Jack Pelton was in Des Moines, Iowa, to promote the fifth Citation Special Olympics Airlift, which will support the 2006 Special Olympics USA National Games. Organizers expect 400 Citations will transport some 2,500 Special Olympic athletes and coaches to the inaugural U.S. national games in Ames, Iowa, scheduled for July 2 to 7 next year.

Corporations and individual Citation owners donate their Citation jets, pilots and fuel to the cause. The business jets will descend on Des Moines International Airport on July 1 from approximately 35 states, and event officials estimate that a special Olympics Citation will land or take off every 60 to 90 seconds during a 12-hour period. After the conclusion of the games, the Special Olympics Citation fleet will return to Iowa on July 8 to pick up athletes and fly them home.

“The Citation Special Olympics Airlift is always a success because of the collaboration and support we receive from individuals within Cessna, the FAA, on-site airport officials, local FBOs, hundreds of volunteers from the community, the Special Olympics community and, most important, Citation owners and operators,” noted Pelton. “Without each of these groups donating their time and resources, we would never be able to stage this type of event. All our work leads up to the moment when a Citation door opens and athletes step out smiling from ear to ear.”

So far Pelton said volunteers have pledged 100 Citations for the 2006 Airlift. But the athletes need 300 more, and the Wichita manufacturer asks for your help. To volunteer a Citation for next year’s games, go to www.citationairlift.com or call (877) 376-5438.