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August 15, 2006   Email to Friend 

Alfa Lends Hand to Special Olympians
Jeff Helms

Top: Alfa pilots prepare to depart Montgomery with Special Olympics athletes and coaches. From left are Alfa Pilot Gid Wakefield, Elizabeth Bronold, coach Barbie Nelson, Adam Irvin, Charlie Fournier, Alfa Pilot Jeff Farmer, Breanna Shelley, TreNesha Morrell and coach Nora Cammack. Bottom left: Farmer walks to the plane with athlete Charles Fournier. Bottom right: Elizabeth Bronold boards the airplane.
Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation recently lent a helping hand to exceptional athletes by flying five Alabama competitors and their coaches to the Special Olympics National Games in Ames, Iowa.

As part of Cessna Corporation's fifth Citation Special Olympics Airlift, Alfa donated the use of its plane, pilots and fuel to transport athletes to the games. Organizers said this year's airlift included about 250 Citation jets carrying an estimated 1,800 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from across the nation.

Among the Alabama athletes participating in this year's games was Elizabeth Bronold, a 24-year-old volleyball player from Dothan. As she prepared to board the Alfa plane, she said she wanted to "come home with the gold," which is what she and other Olympians from Alabama did.

"I'm excited, but it's also an honor for me to come and play as an athlete," said Elizabeth. "I've never flown before, but I'm excited and ready to go."

Elizabeth, who has Down syndrome and is a former self-advocate on the Alabama Special Olympics Board of Directors, praised her teammates and coaches for their support.

"They are wonderful. I love playing with them," she said. "They help me get better and get stronger. They also encourage our team and me as well."

The Citation jets departed for Des Moines International Airport on Saturday, July 1, from about 35 states. A Special Olympics Citation was expected to land or takeoff every 60-90 seconds during the 18-hour period, making the effort one of the largest peacetime airlifts in history. After the conclusion of the National Games, the Special Olympics Citation fleet returned to Des Moines on July 8 to pick up the athletes and took them to their homes.

For more information about the Special Olympics National Games visit www.2006nationalgames.org.

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