Photo provided by Brenda McClintic <br>
Wabash College football players pull a Boeing 727 jet during Saturday’s Special Olympics Indiana FedEx Plane Pull Challenge.
Photo provided by Brenda McClintic
Wabash College football players pull a Boeing 727 jet during Saturday’s Special Olympics Indiana FedEx Plane Pull Challenge.
Normally, Erik Shaver spends his Saturdays trying to hold his own and fend off 200-plus pound defensive linemen.

But they're nothing compared to his latest feat of strength.

This past weekend, the Wabash College senior guard along with 18 other Little Giants teammates took on a new monster - moving a 147,000-plane Boeing 727 plane 20 feet in less than five seconds.

It was just one of the events in the Special Olympics Indiana FedEx Plane Pull Challenge in Indianapolis.

And if you're wondering about their secret, it's the same sticking point they use on the offensive line - communication.

"It's not that hard (to pull a plane) when you're working together," said Shaver, who competed inthe event for the third time. "The first time I did it my freshman year we weren't really in sync. We didn't get off the line fast. (This year) we were working together and pulling all at the same time. It was pretty easy to do and get moving. Once you get it going, 20 feet is a snap."

Nineteen Wabash College football players and their Special Olympian participated in the 2008 FedEx Plane Pull Challenge this past Saturday.

It's a fundraising event that started in 2002 and pits teams of up to 20 people in a tug-of-war competition against a 147,000-plus pound FedEx Boeing 727 aircraft, according to the event's press release. Wabash was one of a record 54 teams who took part in the event and has participated for the past six to seven years, Shaver said.

Wabash College's football team won the fastest All-Star Team division, pulling the Boeing 727 airplane 20 feet in 4.764 seconds.

They nearly ended up with the quickest time overall, finishing .0018 seconds behind the Westfield Correctional Facility (4.746 seconds).

Besides winning the All-Star division, the team raised a little over $1,100 for Special Olympics and could have as much as $1,200 with more donations coming in from football players who wanted to raise money but couldn't pull, Shaver said.

The money will go to the Special Olympians Indiana branch and help four Indiana Special Olympians go to Idaho to represent the state in the Special Olympics National Games.

"I thought it was awesome," Little Giants' senior Tony Neymeiyer said. "One of our big things is community service. As a program, we show it through like little things like this, along with visits to Riley Hospital. We want to impact men within the school, community and our families. The thing about Wabash is that we actually go through and do it. We don't just say it."

Neymeiyer participated in his first FedEx Plane Pull Challenge. He'd wanted to the past three years but since he lives in Bay City, Mich., he struggled finding the time to make it down to Indiana. This year, though, he and the other seniors had just returned from their senior trip in Utah and he decided to stay an extra day in Indiana to participate.

"It teaches you to not take (life) for granted, little things like pulling plane with us can brighten up someone's life," Neymeiyer said. "It's unreal and blows you away when you look back at it."

Wabash senior defensive end Dan Schwanekamp is the team's lone four-year Special Olympics veteran.

He knew some seniors participating in the event his freshman year, so he joined in. Besides, Schwanekamp, 22, also thought it'd be a great way to give back to the community and get to know other football players.

"It's gotten more fun (every year)," he said. "You start to get to know some of the other people that pull with other teams and the Special Olympians. Each time you come back and talk to them. It's a day of being with some old friends and meeting some new ones."

So what's easier - moving a plane or playing on the Little Giants' defensive line?

Schwanekamp acknowledged that was an easy answer - moving the plane.

"It only took five seconds," he said. "It's not too hard. With (19) big football players, it was not that bad. You just have to dig in for a few seconds."