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Teams sweat for a good cause

Anyone can stage a charity golf tournament. But a firetruck pull, now that's the kind of competition that makes a fundraiser smile.

[Times photo: Carrie Pratt]
Bart Quinn strains on the rope with some coaching and encouragement from Mike Matulewich, left, as Quinn attempts to pull a firetruck by himself at the second annual "Pull Your Heart Out" fundraiser for the Marine Institute.

By RYAN DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Employees in the Pasco County Parks and Recreation Department often gather on the weekend to pick up litter, paint houses or do other community service work.

Saturday they teamed to pull a 20-ton firetruck.

"I had my eyes shut the whole time," county parks manager Rick Buckman said. "I was just trying not to go crooked.

"It's tough. I can't believe I'm still breathing hard."

The county's park team was one of 11 teams to compete in the second annual "Pull Your Heart Out" fundraiser for the New Port Richey Marine Institute on Saturday morning.

The teams competed to see who could pull a red Pasco County firetruck across a 50-foot stretch of pavement on the Gulf High School track in the fastest time.

"The trick to doing a fundraiser is to find a unique niche in the area," said Kurt Conover, the chairman of the board for the Marine Institute. "It's pretty easy to do a golf tournament. How many 20-ton firetruck pulls have you seen?"

Conover said he expected the event would raise between $8,000 and $9,000 for the Marine Institute, a non-profit program and school for troubled youths.

To even the competition, the teams were divided into three categories -- one for competitive; one for community groups, which was won by the parks department; and one for high schools, which included kids from the Marine Institute and was won by Boy Scout troop 946 from west Pasco.

Law enforcement and local gyms supplied most of the muscle.

Each team could have as many people as it wanted, but couldn't weigh more than 2,500 pounds in combined body weight.

The competitive division drew teams like the Pasco Power Team, a group of weight lifters from Richey Raquet Club, with team members like Jim Sicuro, a 358-pound 33-year-old from Port Richey.

The team's secret to success: meat and potatoes, 34-year-old Jason Guralny said.

They pulled in tug-of-war fashion on a rope tied to the truck's bumper. The winning team, Pasco Power Lifting Team from Gold's Gym in Palm Harbor, pulled the truck 50 feet in 11 seconds.

By the finish line the truck had gained momentum, but the winning pull started with grunts, groans and red faces, much like a tug-of-war stalemate.

"It feels," said 39-year-old team member Bob Haimes, "like you're pulling a truck."

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