Yesterday, I was travelled to Hillsville, VA to take part in the 1st Annual H.E.R.O. Day (Hearts Empowered to Rescue Others) in Carroll County, VA. The event was organized by Carroll County Tourism and Carroll County Fire/Rescue. While it was the first time that an event of it’s kind has been orchestrated in the area, they were sure to include all of the different members of public safety. The activities that were scheduled included Police K9 courses, a Firefighter Agility Course, a Police Officer Obstacle Course, Vendor Displays, and many more. A full list of activities that were held can be found in my article here.
I arrived in town on Friday night, and went to the near-by hotel to check in to my room. I knew that we would have an early morning since the Obstacle 5K started around 8AM. As we checked in to our hotel room, the hotel attendant slid the room keys across the top of the desk. As I glanced down, chills ran down my spine. The room that we were staying in was Room 219. The significance of this number may not be apparent to all of my readers, but those of you who know me personally are probably familiar. 219 was the FD Number of one of my mentors, friends, and brothers who was taken from us all way too soon. Earl Morphew, who passed in 2009, always pushed me to be the best at everything. If you had been taught it, he expected you to be able to recall it without any problems, just as he was able to do. He had a positive impact on many members of the public in a number of different communities. You can read about him in my article: Remembering Fallen Brother: Earl Morphew here. Since physical fitness was a very important part of Morphew’s life, I knew that this was another reminder of how he would be with me the following morning…and that he was!
Early Saturday morning, we met with some of the key members that played a major role in the event being a HUGE success! Michael and Amanda Parris had been working a countless number of hours to help facilitate the event, and were there to be sure that the H.E.R.O. Day flowed very smoothly. The first thing on my agenda was the Obstacle 5K! For this trip, Jared Lindholm, a co-worker at Kingsport Fire, had decided that he would tag along to also run in his first Obstacle race. We really weren’t sure of exactly what he had gotten ourselves into until we were handed the course map that morning. I was a little nervous about all of the different changes in elevation that were incorporated into the course, and some of the obstacles sounded quite difficult. However, we train together on a regular basis at our local Crossfit box, Crossfit: Shifty Powers, and knew that we would be able to complete whatever was thrown our way.
Due to the event being in it’s first year, there was a small crowd that came out to run in the Obstacle 5K. That did not have an impact on determining how much of a success it was though, because several people did show up to run…and two brothers even did the entire course in FULL TURNOUT GEAR! As for us, we had our RIDEBACKWARDS workout apparel on and were prepared to get it dirty! We started the course with the blast of a loud airhorn! The different obstacles we encountered included jumping over burning logs, mud pits, tires, swinging logs, etc. There were creeks we had to go through, walls we had to go across, and a number of things we had to crawl under. After the intense 3.1 mile run through the hills of Carroll County, the course ended with a huge water slide down the hill to the finish line. The local fire departments were even wetting it down with a fire hose! Our friends/family were waiting on us at the finish line to cheer us on as we crossed it together! Baron and Hunter from Team Hunter were even there waiting for us! (I wore a GoPro camera during the race, and I will share the footage as soon as it’s available.)
Once we cleaned up and returned back down to the Farmers Market where the event was being held, we had work to do. Jared and I helped judge the Fire Department Engine Company Drill that was scheduled to take place that morning. The teams competing in the challenge had to dress out, respond to the scene, flush and hook to a hydrant, pull a crosslay, and extinguish a car fire after providing an on-scene report. The different teams that competed were timed and scored with a score sheet that had all of the critical steps. We had a great time watching these crews work, and helping judge the event! The departments that competed were the City of Galax Fire Department, Hillsville Volunteer Fire, and Cana Volunteer Fire. We had the chance to hang out with most of the guys as they cleaned up from their scenario, and they all did a great job!
During the rest of the afternoon, members of the agencies and members of the community browsed through the apparatus that were on display, through the vendors booths, and through some of the other activities that were scheduled. There was a clown twisting balloons into shapes for the kids, individuals learning HeartSaver CPR, and food and drinks being served. They even held a Wheel Chair Race and a Stretcher Race through a cone course that evening! AirCare, a local aeromedical transport agency, made an appearance but had to cut out early due to receiving a call. Once again, these were just a number of the many events being held. The evening came to a closing with an awards ceremony being held for all of the events that had been judged throughout the day.
The time and effort that was put forth during the planning process of the 1st Annual H.E.R.O. Day was very apparent when the rubber met the road! The event took the collaboration of a number of agencies, individuals, and the community to make it a SUCCESS! I would like to personally thank Michael and Amanda Parris for inviting us up for the event, and be sure to follow H.E.R.O. Day on Facebook to be notified of future events in the area!