“The Games of Heroes”

Taking a break from my usual wildlife and nature photography, to bring you a slice of the “A” … adventure photography in the “TNWA Photography” name, as seen through my eyes at the 2015 World Police & Fire Games in Fairfax, Virginia.  More in that in just a bit …

It was the start of 30 days, on the road, of road and mountain biking for Tom and 2 of his firefighter friends.  Yes, I was pretty much along for this ride, so I had to shoot when & where I could.

So on Jun 24th, Tom & I set off on the road to Charleston, SC … in his pickup filled to the brim with toys … 4 bicycles, 3 RC glider planes, 2 fully packed camera bags, 2 tripods, 4-5 backpacks, 2 suitcases, enough tools and bike supplies to open a mini bike shop, cooler, and 2 laptop computers.  We were prepared for just about anything … good thing too.  🙂

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Once we arrived in SC, we spent the night and continued on our journey to Fairfax, VA.  Once there, the first order of business was the athlete registration/check-in.

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Dubbed “The Games of Heroes”, this was a huge international event … it celebrated our police, fire, and law enforcement athletes from over 12,000 athletes from about 70 countries.  Some were there in full celebration of their country’s heritage, such as the athletes from Norway.  My new friend Maria, herself a firefighter for Dale City, VA, got on the fun end of this photo op.  🙂

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Of course with the USA having the host country honors, Team USA was there in full force.

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Tom (my hubby & “sherpa”) and his fellow co-worker Todd were both quite excited to be there.  It was Tom’s 2nd World Games, but Todd’s first.  The next day, the guys (Tom, Todd, Johnny, and John) went to trial ride the mountain bike course, but conditions were deteriorated and pre-riding was not suggested.  There they met up with a Belgium police officer who was also competing in the mountain biking event.

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At these “Games”, it was celebrated much as the real Olympics are celebrated … complete with a Grand Opening Ceremony and a Parade of Countries featuring the athletes.  So the guys decided to represent their country the best that they could.  I was loving those flashing USA glasses!  LOL

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The athletes had to enter through their tunnel when it was time for their country to march.

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So off went the guys to join their fellow competitors.  As we said our goodbyes before leaving them, we reminded them … Don’t forget to turn those glasses lights on!

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Maria & I, as spectators entered RFK Stadium in Washington DC and grabbed a seat quickly … yes, basking in the sun.  It was only about 5pm.

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I remember being impressed with the flags of the nations represented at the games displayed in the center of the stadium field.

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We watched patiently, with a sense of awe and pride for each of the competitors, and felt their huge sense of accomplishment of them just being there.  Of course, our friends from Norway were marching proudly as usual.

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Finally, the USA began their march through the stadium.  Now, let me see where Tom is … and I hope I can find him in the sea of USA athletes!

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What seemed like an eternity went by, but finally there he was, pointing at me as he spotted me near the front of the crowds.

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John (Ret. Charleston FD), Scott (Palm Beach County FD), Tom (Ret. Dania Beach FD), & Todd (Broward County Sheriff’s Office FD) – all firefighters – were marching together.  All of them will be competing in the mountain bike race in just a few days.

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There were many speeches going on during the ceremony … some local leaders, heads of the World Police & Fire Games, TV stars, well known athletes, but one impressed me more than the others.

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Retired General and Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was present and address the athletes and the spectators, with a special memorial re: 9/11, amongst other messages.  It was truly an honor, no matter what political views you have.

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At the end of the evening, as there was in the beginning of the ceremony, 2 fire truck ladder hoisted up a huge American flag in a show of support and celebration.  Oh yeah, Let The Games Begin!

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Images and stories from the cycling events will follow in another post, so stay tuned!

© 2015 Debbie Tubridy

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