Brains and brawn: Hospital staff ready to pull airliner to benefit Ronald McDonald Houses

Brains and brawn

Hospital staff ready to pull airliner to benefit Ronald McDonald Houses

September 10, 2008

Teams from the University of Chicago Medical Center are getting in shape as they prepare for a once-in-a-lifetime duel between them and a commercial airliner to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House in Hyde Park.

On Saturday, Oct. 4, physicians, nurses, hospital volunteers, and other allied health professionals will be part of the second annual "Plane Pull." The event pits teams from different hospitals and other organizations against each other as they attempt to pull a Boeing 737 plane on loan from Southwest Airlines. The team that pulls the plane 50 feet the fastest wins.

A unique fundraising method, the event was so well received in its first year that it has returned with more team participation and higher fundraising goals. Competitor hospitals will come together in this friendly battle to pull the 83,000-pound plane.

"The Ronald McDonald House in Hyde Park has helped more than 7,700 families from around the world who bring their children to the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. These families stay here at no charge so they can concentrate on their child's treatment instead," house manager Mardelle Gundlach said. "Last year's plane pull was literally tons of fun and this year's will be too."


Saturday, October 4
1 p.m. Doors Open
2 p.m. Plane Pull Begins


Midway Airport, Southwest Hangar 55B
5035 W. 55th St.
Free off-site parking and shuttle available


Teams from local hospitals and other organizations will attempt to pull a 737 commercial airliner in the fastest time

Teams of up to 20 persons will pit their strength against the commercial aircraft. Participants are asked to raise at least $200 per person or $4,000 per team.

The 30,000-square-foot Hyde Park Ronald McDonald House includes 22 bedrooms and common living areas for patients' families. Operating since 1986, the house is a place of respite for families who often have to cope with difficult medical situations their loved ones are going through.

In addition to the Hyde Park house, the Plane Pull also benefits all of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the health, well-being, and education of children. The charity operates two other houses in Hines, Illinois, and in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, near other pediatric hospitals. A fourth house will open in December 2008 in Oak Lawn. The organization also operates the custom-designed vehicle that provides free medical care to underserved children and a college scholarship program for promising students from low-income families.

Part of the University of Chicago Medical Center, Comer Children's Hospital opened in 2005 and provides superior pediatric care. Pediatricians handle some of the most complex patient cases and are faculty members of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

To donate to a Plane Pull team, go to To sign up and be placed on a University of Chicago team, contact or Cathy Berk at (773) 324-5437.

About the University of Chicago Medical Center
The University of Chicago Medical Center, established in 1927, is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It consists of the renowned Pritzker School of Medicine; Bernard Mitchell Hospital, the primary adult patient care facility; Comer Children's Hospital, devoted to the medical needs of children; Chicago Lying-in Hospital, a maternity and women's hospital; and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art ambulatory-care facility with the full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment functions. Care is provided by more than 700 attending physicians - most of whom are full-time University faculty members - 620 residents and fellows, more than 1,000 nurses and 9,500 employees.

The Medical Center is consistently recognized as a leading provider of complex medical care. It is the only Illinois hospital ever to make the U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll, with eight clinical specialties--digestive disorders; cancer; endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; geriatrics; and ear, nose and throat--ranked among the top 30 programs nationwide. The Medical Center was awarded Magnet status in 2007, the highest level of recognition for nursing care.