Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Granite Mountain Hotshots

Having been raised in a fire family, I've paid extra attention Sunday's tragic deaths of the 19 Hotshot crew members in Arizona.  My dad was a Los Angeles City fireman and I've lived my entire life being surrounded by all types of firefighters.  The people that my dad worked with are in some of my favorite childhood memories and his best friend and his wife have never been known to me as anything but Uncle Denny and Aunt Laura.  I consider them and their children to be my family in the fiercest way possible and when my uncle passed away a few years ago - it was no different than losing a member of my own genetically-connected family. 

My heart absolutely breaks for everyone who was touched by this tragedy.  All of the crew members were so young and had so much of their lives ahead of them.  It's such a loss for the community in Arizona, the fire department, and their families. In reading several articles about the fallen heroes, I found out that several of them worked out at Captain Crossfit in Prescott, AZ.  The coaches were quoted about how awesome they were to work with and how encouraging they were to other athletes.  It's a huge loss for the CrossFit community as well.  I can't even begin to imagine losing a single gym member to that kind of tragedy, much less a whole crew.  

I know that as a CrossFit community, we take the time to recognize our fallen heroes - crossfit.com always pays homage with a special WOD named after them with what I can only assume are favorite (or most hated) movements, on Memorial Day - almost every gym does Murph, and I've seen several gyms that do fundraiser WODs for fallen members of police, fire or military.  I sincerely hope that a kick-ass Hero WOD will come out of this tragedy so that as a CrossFit community, we can honor these fallen men in the way that we do - by sweating and pushing ourselves to the limit in a way that would make the fallen proud. 

Why is this such a big deal to me?  Probably because I was too young to realize the danger that my dad was in every time that he went to work.  It never even crossed my mind.  I knew that my dad and the other firemen were my own personal heroes - but I was too young to realize that it was a real possibility that they wouldn't come home.  Now, as an adult, I can put myself into the shoes of those who lost husbands, fathers, sons, friends, and heroes.  

I think we can also all take a lesson from the Hotshots.  The coaches from Captain CrossFit were quoted as saying that the fallen were among the most encouraging at the gym.  So... take a minute - stop tearing down your equipment and running out the door the second you are done with the WOD.  Instead, grab your water bottle, take a drink, and show some encouragement to the athlete who is struggling to finish.  Help your dead dog tired classmate put their plates away after a grueling workout.  Introduce yourself to someone new - especially when they have that panicked 'first official WOD' look on their face.  Help someone get into their pullup bands - even if it extends your time by 2 seconds.  Give your team a high five after the workout - everyone just worked their asses off and deserves it.  Smile!  Just go the extra mile for the others at the gym.  

Photo courtesy City of Prescott, AZ

Interested in helping out the families of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew?  Click here for information on donating.  It may not seem like a whole lot, but trust me, the kindness of total strangers after losing your loved one to a tragedy - means the world. 

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