Augusta Plane Pull raises money for Ronald McDonald House

It seemed even a team including Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America could not win on muscle alone at the fourth annual Plane Pull to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta on Saturday.


“We dress up because it’s fun,” said Mary Lewis, the captain of the Healthcare Heroes team from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon. “This is an event for the kids.”

The heroes were one of 27 teams who helped raise more than $27,000 for the charity, bringing the total up to nearly $100,000 since the event began, said Ronald McDonald House President and CEO Betts Mur­dison.

“It’s getting bigger and better every year,” she said. “We are so excited about this event. We don’t ever want it to stop.”

The teams pulled a 150,000-pound FedEx Boeing 727 jet 12 feet with a rope, competing for the fastest time.

The Healthcare Heroes, though they did not win with a time of 7.022 seconds, were also competing for best dressed, an honor they took last year when they came as the “Tacky Ducks.”

For onlookers Tonya and Wesley Beights, the event was personal.

After 15 years of trying to have a child, Beights found out she was pregnant. When she came down to Augusta to see her husband graduate from advanced individual training at Fort Gordon just 26 weeks later, she went into labor.

Dani Lyn entered the world weighing 1 pound, 10 ounces and was just 12 inches long. At first she was fine, but then she stopped breathing and had two brain bleeds. She was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

While Beights’ husband was stationed in the barracks at Fort Gordon, the Arkansas native had nowhere to live. For 5½ months, Beights lived in the Ronald McDonald House and visited her daughter every day at the Medical College of Georgia Chil­dren’s Medical Center.

“People don’t really understand how much stress it is just to go to the hospital every day to visit your child,” she said. “It’s expensive and exhausting.”

As Dani Lyn, now 2, moved around their feet in a walker Saturday, the Beightses shone with pride. Their three adopted daughters, 6, 7, and 10, played behind them in a bounce house set up for the event.

The Beightses come to the Plane Pull every year to show support to the organization that helped them when they needed it most.

“We do whatever we can to say thanks.” Tonya Beights said. “We will forever be thankful for the Ronald McDonald House and everyone behind the scenes.”