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Never Forget

Firefighter Dennis Short pays homage to fallen heroes through the design of his World Police and Fire Games cycling kit

When Dennis Short of Alexandria, Virginia answers a question, he does so in a way that is matter-of-fact, yet still soft-spoken. He’s the very definition of “cool, calm, collected,” and the exact type of person you want in charge in any sort of emergency situation. Good thing he’s a firefighter.

He’s also a cyclist. Short started racing BMX bikes when he was young, moving to mountain bikes in high school, and finally graduating to road bike racing as an adult to relieve stress and stay in shape—vitally important for his job.

In 2009, he took his hobby to the next level, competing in the World Police and Fire Games in Vancouver, later winning a bronze medal in 2015 at the Fairfax games. Founded in 1967, the Games bring together police officers and firefighters from all over the world to build camaraderie and promote physical fitness.

This August, Short returns to the Games, this time in Los Angeles, wearing his own personally designed kit.

“Since I’m not competing as a member of a cycling team, I couldn’t design kit specific to the team. Instead, I designed the kit specific to the U.S. I’m representing them in the world games, so in a way, they’re my team,” explains Short. “And most importantly, I wanted to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty—both in 9/11 and in general.”

A cognizant reminder for Short, as well as others, of those who have lost their lives rescuing others, Short’s kit design for the 2017 World Police and Fire Games features a large red “NEVER FORGET” just below the collar. Underneath is a list of fallen police officers and firefighters of 9/11. In addition, on the sleeves are the thin blue line and thin red line flags that commemorate the fallen police officers and firefighters. Lastly, as a small detail on the left sleeve, the Brazilian flag commemorates Officer Carlos Silva, who passed away in the 2015 Word Police and Fire Games after a rough cycling crash.

“As a firefighter, any time I hear about a fellow firefighter or police officer losing their life, it makes me stop and think … brings me back down to earth a bit, reminds me that I’m not invincible,” says Short. “My 13-year-old daughter worries about me every day that I go to work. I know I’m lucky to have my life.”

So although Short can’t bring back the lives of fallen police officers and firefighters, he has found his own personal way to honor them. As he crosses the finish line of the road race at the Games this August, he won’t just be celebrating his finish. He’ll also be celebrating the lives of those whose names he wears on his back and shoulders, never forgetting their bravery and heroism.