plane pull

Libby Thaw of Port Elgin prepared to pull a 60 tonne FedEx 757 cargo plane to raise money for the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital and raise awareness for the Checkered Eye Project. Photo submitted

Hub Staff

Sometimes you need to move mountains to reach your goal, or in Libby Thaw’s case, a 60 tonne FedEx 757 cargo plane. Thaw, whom some would call a true Bruce County superhero, demonstrated perseverance to raise awareness for the Checkered Eye Project (CEP). Thaw launched the CEP 18 years ago, introducing the Checkered Eye emblem as an indicator of some degree of visual impairment, offering an alternative to individuals on the blindness spectrum who do not necessarily require a white cane.

This spring, Thaw signed up for the Plane Pull for Sight to raise money for the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, a 1982 initiative aimed to improve eye care and avoidable blindness worldwide. Teams of up to 20 were faced with the challenge of pulling a 60 tonne cargo plane across a 20ft course. To participate, teams were required to raise a minimum of $2,500. Thaw was prepared to fly solo for this ambitious goal and, not expecting to raise enough money in just three weeks, planned to payout the required funds, and was pleasantly surprised on both fronts.

Thaw described the experience at the Plane Pull to be analogous to their journey with the Checkered Eye Project. Upon arriving at the FedEx ramp at Pearson International in Toronto on June 9, the magnitude of the mission was staggering. Thaw began making introductions to strangers at the event and explained their intent to pull the plane solo.

I asked them, on the off chance I can’t do this myself, if they would mind helping me, Thaw explained, adding that there were many teams who were unable to move the plane.

“The people who helped me, we moved that plane, and fast,” said Thaw, adding that it was a heartwarming thing. "It was kind of moving for me."

In the short window to fundraise for the event, Thaw soared beyond the minimum requirement by over $1,000 and was thrilled as they were with the contribution to support the Flying Eye Hospital, they didn’t pass up the opportunity to raise awareness for the Checkered Eye Project.

“I put on an outrageous outfit so that if there was any press there, I would get their attention," said Thaw.

Thaw’s friend and long-time Checkered Eye supporter, Mini Jacques, is also working to draw attention to the cause by nominating Thaw for the Post Search For Goodness contest. Thaw expressed an initial hesitation towards the contest.

“At first I felt a little awkward about it” admitted Thaw. “I don’t feel all that comfortable blowing my own horn."

Having quickly overcome any doubts about the contest, Thaw realized what the $10,000 grand prize could do for the CEP. Thaw is in the process of developing videos to be viewed in elementary schools, which they described as “a pricey little endeavour."

Thaw noted that the top ten contenders in the contest will be presented to a panel of judges who will choose a winner. You can vote to support Thaw and the Checkered Eye Project by following the link below. Voting closes September 2.


Libby Thaw, founder of the Checkered Eye Project, raised awareness for her cause at the 2019 Plane Pull for Sight in Toronto, June 9. Photo submitted