BOWLING GREEN, OH (WTOL) - Hundreds of competitors from around the country head home after attending the 50th annual National Tractor Pulling Championships Sunday. But the pullers aren't the only ones walking away from the weekend with pride.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, that's been attending the championships for 24 years, raised more than $106,000 to help gr ant wishes to sick children.
According to April DeVito, Manager of Volunteer Programs, the support has been overwhelming this year for their "Pulling for Wishes" campaign.
"When a lot of people think of Make-A-Wish, they think 'that's really cool experience for a kid or that's such a once in a lifetime vacation', but it's so much more than that. It's changing these families' lives. We're bringing this happy medicine into these kids," said DeVito. "Having a positive spirit and having a wealth of support. That human spirit is absolutely essential and absolutely critical in overcoming anything and so we want to bring that happiness and support and that hope strength and joy to each kid."
The chapter that campaigned at the Wood County Fairgrounds helps 60 children annually in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. It takes about $8,000 to fulfill a wish. In addition to charity, the economic impact that the championships bring in yearly is significant.
According to David Schultz, a member of the Northwest Ohio Tractor Pulling Association, the organization behind the event, $40 million is brought into the area annually. Pullers and spectators come from all over the U.S. and even Canada.
"They have to stay in hotels, they have to eat in restaurants, they have to buy their groceries they bring in, so all of that plus the competitors coming in really impacts Northwest Ohio, not just Bowling Green, not just Wood County," said Schultz.
The event also allows the Otsego Athletic Booster Club to prosper as well. They clean the stands and area around the arena every morning to raise money for their organization.
"Boosters get paid a lot for this and that benefits all of the sports. We split it up evenly and it helps us a lot with getting new equipment, new jerseys this year, new stuff," said Dalton Limes, an Otsego football player.
The Otsego Athletic Booster Club plans to attend next year, in addition to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is still accepting donations through text messaging.