Special Olympics wins $25,000 Discover Flying Challenge donation

WICHITA – Cessna Aircraft Co. is presenting a $25,000 donation to Special Olympics’ 2014 USA Games as an award for the organization’s partnership and support of the 2013 Discover Flying Challenge.

“We are happy to award Special Olympics a $25,000 donation for their outstanding involvement and engagement with our pilot interns both on and off line,” said single engine/propeller aircraft senior vice president Jodi Noah. “On Facebook and Twitter, as well as through their summer games and camps, Special Olympics gave our pilots incredible opportunities to get involved in their organization.”

“Everyone with Special Olympics were very inviting to us pilots and also receptive to what we were doing. They included me and the other pilots in several of their events throughout the summer. I’m glad I was able to volunteer and work with some of the athletes,” said Brian Dierks, Cessna pilot intern. “I feel honored to have had the opportunity to be involved with such a great organization.”

Special Olympics earned the most likes and shares on Facebook, as well as the most retweets on Twitter. In addition, Special Olympics ensured that pilots had the opportunity to interact and engage with their audiences offline. The donation was presented to Special Olympics 2014 USA Games at a ceremony held at the Games’ headquarters in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

In June, Cessna announced the second annual Discover Flying Challenge — a internship program offered to student pilots — during which the pilot interns fly around the country to increase awareness of general aviation, the Discover Flying Challenge internship and Cessna’s community partners.

Five charitable organizations participated in the 2013 Discover Flying Challenge — American Red Cross, Experimental Aviation Association Young Eagles, Special Olympics, United Way and Veterans Airlift Command — in order to gain awareness for aviation and philanthropy. Each organization’s logo was printed on the tails of the Cessna 172 Skyhawks flown cross-country by Cessna’s six pilot interns: Brian Dierks, Brian Simmons, Lawrence Howard, Lucas Worthen, Ryan Todd and Stephen West.

The charitable organizations participating in the 2013 Discover Flying Challenge were encouraged to reach out to and engage with aviation audiences through the six pilot interns. In turn, the six pilot interns interacted in person and engaged through social media with the charitable organizations and their audiences. The organization that earned the most social media engagement through Cessna’s corporate social media won the $25,000 donation while the remaining organizations each receive a $10,000 donation.

Pictured above, left to right: Amie Dugan, Special Olympics North America; Lillian Narvaez, 2014 Special Olympics USA Games; Juli McClure, Cessna Aircraft Co.; Tom Varga, 2014 Special Olympics USA Games; Jayla Sweely, Cessna Aircraft Co.

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