Posted by: sonewjersey | September 27, 2012

The “OPTUM-ism” behind the Plane Pull

by Meghan Marinari, guest blogger and OPTUM-ism Team Captain


Meghan Marinari getting ready at last year’s Plane Pull

When people ask me if I have plans this weekend, I typically say, “Yes, I’ll be pulling a 93,000 pound plane across the tarmac at Newark Liberty International Airport.” The responses my casual reply evoke are absolutely priceless.

This Saturday, September 29, our Basking Ridge team, OPTUM-ism, will be one of the many teams attempting to pull the Boeing 737 twelve feet in under two minutes to benefit Special Olympics New Jersey.

SONJ is an amazing organization that gives individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunity “to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.” Special Olympics touches the lives of so many of our families, friends and coworkers and I know our company is proud to support such a worthy cause.

The event has become extremely popular within our local office. One of the many hats I wear at UnitedHealth Group/Optum is site event coordinator. As a site, we are recognized annually for our charitable giving across the broader organization. I encourage employees to come to me with innovative suggestions and ideas on how to give back to the community outside of our usual walks and on-site drives.

Team OPTUM-ism in action

Four years ago, an employee informed me about the Plane Pull and wondered if we could form a team. Absolutely! Brilliant! And so began our partnership with SONJ. Team OPTUM-ism (formally known as i3) had formed and the registration filled within minutes.

Participating since 2009, OPTUM-ism thoroughly enjoys this meaningful event. From being the highest fundraising team in 2010 to attempting to pull the plane with one person for the lowest weight competition, each year brings upon new and exciting memorable experiences. The event also amazes me in its ability to connect so many people not only within NJ, but also within our company.

One employee shared that his brother (a former Special Olympics athlete) passed away recently from complications with Down Syndrome. Another puller brings his daughter with special needs every year as a cheerleader, and yet another asked to have his son, from what I’ve heard a Special Olympic athlete superstar, to pull with us this year. Each year our “who we’re pulling for” list grows – it’s incredibly impactful and truly defines teamwork.

Meghan with some of her teammates

On behalf of the entire OPTUM-ism team, we are so excited to pull again Saturday. We look forward to seeing friends and families and sharing stories and laughs. We look forward to not only supporting one another in this challenge, but also the individuals who have in one way or another touched and changed our lives. I wish all the teams the best of luck on Saturday. Fingers crossed for good weather!


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