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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Companies that have a heart

Opening ceremonies of the 2010 Special Olympics are today in Lincoln, Nebraska. Yesterday over 170 Cessna private jets were volunteered by their owners and pilots to bring athletes to Lincoln from across the county. Next weekend, they’ll take the athletes home.

It’s billed as the largest civilian, peacetime airlift in history. The airlifts began in 1987 and have increased in size ever since. They brought athletes to Raleigh when the Special Olympics were here in 1999.

Harrison Ford is the honorary chairman of this year’s airlift. He owns and pilots his own Cessna jet, and he personally flew New Mexico’s team to the games. Although a few of these aircraft are owned by individuals, most are owned by businesses. Here is a sampling of the businesses you might recognize:

Arizona Cardinals Football Club, BorgWarner, Briggs & Stratton, Coca Cola Bottling, Delhaize (owner of Food Lion), Garmin, General Mills, HCA, Honeywell, Jostens, Lord (based in Raleigh), Owens Corning, Parker Hannifin, Progress Energy (based in Raleigh), Target, Textron, United Technologies… and even the University of Notre Dame.

Six Cessna jets left Raleigh for Lincoln yesterday at dawn. I assume two of them were the Lord and Progress Energy aircraft. I don’t know who owns the other four.

The airlift is organized by Cessna, which produces the Citation family of business jets. Cessna is just one company in a highly competitive market, so don’t infer anything if a business you patronize isn't mentioned as a participant. Besides, many corporations insisted on no publicity. They didn’t do it for publicity. So far, I haven’t seen a single corporation toot its own horn for participating.

I like to see corporations and their employees who have a heart. Even when Nortel was going bankrupt, we kept our commitments to charities like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.