Police Service Dogs, 6/27/2015, World Police and Fire Games
Police Service Dogs, 6/27/2015, World Police and Fire Games
"I'd just won a gold medal and set a record in the 100 meter free. I was wearing my medal while walking back to our room at UBC when members of the Taiwanese Police volleyball team saw I won gold. They ran over to congratulate me. We ended up trading a bunch of swag. They were so friendly and excited that I got a gold medal."
Holly Bird hails from Hertfordshire, England and is no stranger to law enforcement. With both parents retiring from a long career with the police, and her brother currently working a neighboring division, Holly herself first started her journey in law enforcement at the age of 18. Since that time, she has worked in many roles, starting out in dispatch, but recently became an Officer! She is passionate about helping genuine victims obtain true justice and that focus keeps her fueled during the long hours and sometimes adverse situations.
Because of the nature of the job, Holly is often reminded of how short life can be. Last year, the point was driven home that we all are only given one life to live, there are no dress rehearsals. Holly says “Life is too short to dwell on things that you cannot change, too short to have negative people bringing you down in your life and too short to not be making yourself happy. I have made some big changes in my life over the last 12 months. But, regret scares me a lot more than change does so I embrace it now. That change of mind set is the whole reason I jumped on the chance to come to Fairfax!” Holly, we are glad you’re making the leap!
Karate has been a part of Holly’s life for the majority, starting with Wado Ryu at the age of 8 and switching to Shotokan in her early teens. Her favorite movies/tv shows were – not surprisingly - The Karate Kid, Power Rangers and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and she wanted to learn all of the amazing moves, including the spinning high kicks. Her father was a karateka (practitioner of karate) and watching him consistently reach his goals and obtain his black belt, she too wanted that same achievement for herself.
Entering European competition when she was 18, she began to love the art of making every technique look as beautiful and accurate as possible (kata). Recently, she has also begun to enjoy kumite as well, which literally translated means “grappling hands.”
Karate is not just a sport for Holly, it is truly a way of life. She says “It’s the constant in my life that I can turn to whenever things feel out of balance. I think most martial artists understand that.” We asked what sport she would love to try or learn and she answered beach volleyball, although she readily admits that while her hand / eye coordination is stellar in the martial arts, when you add a ball to the mix, it all goes downhill.
Citing her parents as her true heroes, watching them live their lives to the fullest serves as great motivation for Holly. What an amazing surprise to Holly that her parents will be coming along with her to watch her compete at the Fairfax 2015 Games!
Outside of her own family, she greatly respects Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez for his style, charisma and his love of the spiritual side of fighting. In recent years, Holly has begun to follow and hold great admiration for Ronda Rousey as she develops and smashes down barriers for women in Martial Arts.
If Holly isn’t training or working, you’ll find her surfing! She loves being in the sea, away from the noise of everyday life. Spending time with friends and family is also important to her, especially her adorable 5 year old nephew! Holly is a firm believer of alternative therapies and enjoys growing her own plants and foods and believes in the healing power of crystals. She is an advocate of healthy homegrown foods and loves making them taste as good as the full fat versions!
HOLLY IS MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO: meeting all of her fellow athletes, visiting DC in the summertime and is SUPER excited about seeing the Foo Fighters in concert on July 4th!
Thomas A. Giannettino is someone who doesn’t give up easily. After 21 years in the Air Force and New York Air National Guard, he began a career with the New York State Police in 1999. Working as a uniform trooper at the beginning and later promoted to Investigator in 2007, his most proud moment was assisting in New York City after 9/11. He says “I am so humbled that I had the privilege of being a part of that time in history.”
While on duty in November of 2011, Tom was brutally assaulted and suffered a life changing injury to his shoulder, leaving him depressed and not sure where to turn. After numerous surgeries and much time spent rehabilitating his shoulder and arm, his range of motion remained severely impacted and with very little use of his arm. His doctor finally delivered the news that he should consider finding a different career and Tom retired in 2012.
He didn’t let that stop him, however, and giving up has never been an option. He started competing in triathlons in 2013 and to date has received top billing in multiple Northeast Region Paratriathlons, a Half Ironman, Sprint Distance events and more. The difficulty and discipline of the triathlon is what drew Tom’s attention and because he was required to learn to swim and bike with just one arm, the mental determination was also a way to allow him to heal both physically and mentally.
So far this season, Tom has raced in East London, South Africa and Sunshine Coast Australia. Tom said “I can definitely improve, but I’ve earned enough points so far to be world ranked and in the hunt to become a Paralympics’ hopeful for Rio in 2016.” Bravo, Tom! At the writing of this article, Tom is competing for the Paratriathlon Continental Championship in Monterrey, Mexico.
Citing his father as his role model, Tom credits many of his own traits and core values as being linked directly to the valuable lessons he learned from his father, a Marine during WWII. Any free time he has that is not dedicated to training, he spends with his family, and Tom also happens to be a movie buff. If you ask Tom what one thing most people don’t know about him, it’s that he loves rap music!
Tom isn’t just determined to improving his own health and the quality of his family relationships, he also gives back a considerable amount of time by volunteering for Operation Homeland Honor, an organization developed to help permanently injured first responders and veterans become active in sports and competition as a way to heal and become active again in life. Additionally, he participates and volunteers with the Second Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club. As a participant, he is a member of their elite athlete team but as a volunteer, he gives his time to assist with the kid’s camp and other various activities providing guidance and instruction of the sport of triathlon to physically challenged and visually impaired athletes. If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he also volunteers with Team RWB and Code 9: Officer Needs Assistance, both of which were crucial in Tom’s own suffering and healing from Post Traumatic Stress.
During the Fairfax 2015 Games, Tom is looking forward to reconnecting with his Operation Homeland Honor teammates, who are scattered all over the country, but will be reuniting this Summer in Fairfax, Virginia!
After receiving her Bachelors in Criminology from FSU, she was hired as the first female patrolman in the history of the Lebanon Police Department in New Hampshire (1985). After graduating 3rd in the academy and placing 2nd in firearms, she was recruited by the United States Secret Service and worked as a polygraph examiner, and later transferred to the Vice Presidential Protective Division. The remainder of her career included time with the US Army Criminal Investigation Command, Major Procurement Fraud Unit at Fort Devens, Massachusetts as well as working with the Department of Defense in two different capacities.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, Sue found a love for all things motorcycles! She bought her Harley Davidson Road King and began racing dirt bikes in the mid 90s! Racing primarily in the Women’s Class in Harescrambles (timed races through the woods with obstacles including rock gardens, mud, logs, steep hill, streams, etc.), she placed 2nd overall for the championship in 2000.
The season ended that November, and soon after, Sue had her first child. She didn’t race or ride again until it was announced that the 2005 WPFG would be held in Quebec! She had tried to make the 1997 games in Calgary and again the 2001 games in Indianapolis, but never quite seemed to get there. When the 2005 games were announced, Sue knew she had to make it happen and although she had never raced motocross, registered as a competitor.
In preparation for Quebec, Sue went to JUST one motocross track for practice and spent only 20 minutes practicing. She says “Essentially….I had no training with motocross and just relied on my previous race experience. I was happy to just fit into my riding gear…as I had two children by that time.” Sue dominated the field and not only was the sole female competitor, she won the Bronze Medal in the Master (over 125CC/25CC) Category
In November 2010, Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer. After undergoing two surgeries and nearly three months of radiation treatment, Sue refused to let cancer win. She forced herself to return to playing in a women’s hockey league, and ran the Warrior Dash and Spartan Race in 2011, just months after finishing treatment. “Cancer is just another thing in life that you deal with, but it doesn’t have to devastate you.”
Soon after, Sue had her 50th birthday and celebrated, as you would if you were Sue – by running the 10 mile Tough Mudder Race up and back down Mt. Snow in Vermont! Since then, she has completed her second Warrior Dash and her third Spartan Race found her placing 22 out of 186 women in her age group.
Sue will be competing in both Motocross and Cross Country this summer and says she loves the Games, most especially the opportunity to meet so many public safety athletes from other countries. She fondly remembers being in the parking lot in Quebec and meeting the Vanek family from the Czech Republic, who – even with limited English – helped repair the brakes on her motorcycle before the race.
Santa Claus recently brought him a new dirtbike and after having a friend create a small track on her property, he rides every chance he can get.
When asked to define her definition of success, Sue said “It used to be bringing home the trophy. Now, the definition of “success” in racing has shifted.” As she has introduced her son to the sport, she realizes the lessons are not just about the win. “It’s important to “show up” and do your best. Regardless of how you place, you’re already a success for just being there and competing. It takes hard work and commitment. Some good things come simply as a result of hard work and being consistent. If my son can learn this in sports, I believe he can apply the same work ethic to every aspect of his life.”
Sue's most excited to: participate in the Opening Ceremonies (she missed that in Quebec, 2005), catch up with old friends from the Secret Service and make new friends as well!
Imagine growing up as a young boy, constantly being told to be careful. Not the kind of “be careful” where your mom catches you roughhousing with your sibling; this kind of “be careful” is the one where a doctor tells you not to ride a bike or play sports
A young boy told at an early age that he can’t ride a bike, play football, or play soccer seems a little unfair.
Such is the childhood endured by Adam Wilson. Born with a blockage that caused one kidney to deteriorate while impacting development of the other, “be careful” was an everyday staple of Wilson’s life.
But did he listen?
What do you think?
Against doctor’s orders, he still rode bikes and enjoyed a relatively normal childhood, just minus the sports. This routine followed him all through high school, ultimately causing the military to turn him down.
Of course, none of this would stop Adam Wilson.
Fueled by an extremely competitive attitude he knew sitting on the sidelines had gone on long enough. He started running ultimately setting his sights on an ultra-marathon. His nephrologist insisted that he give up long distance running because of the pressure it puts on the kidneys so Wilson made a deal, “I would come right back after my ultra-marathon (the North Face Endurance Challenge in Atlanta) and if my kidney function had dropped I would stop.” After the race, Wilson returned to the doctor and was delighted to learn that his Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) numbers had actually improved! Scratching his head, the doctor decided that Wilson’s one kidney was more efficient than most. Deemed essentially healthy, he was given the green light to pursue whatever he wanted.
Since the ultra-marathon, Wilson joined the Gastonia Police Department’s SWAT team, a highly-regarded squad that has won many competitions including a world championship on ESPN. Wilson saw this as an opportunity to pursue a dream he coveted since his childhood: he wanted to be part of a team. “I’ve always had a ‘going to the extreme’ personality,” he said. “If I am going to start running, I want to run an ultra- marathon, If I am going to be a cop, I want to be SWAT. If I work out, I want to make it as crazy as possible.” SWAT is not just any team, Wilson says. “It’s about as intense as it gets.” And to better his performance as part of that team, and to better himself, Wilson took up CrossFit®.
He got hooked right away. If he wasn’t competitive before, he most certainly is now. “CrossFit® is about mental toughness and who can keep pushing forward whenever you feel like quitting,” he says. “You can never be finished getting better.”
Adam Wilson will participate in next summer’s World Police & Fire Games as part of its first ever CrossFit® competition and he is going to enjoy every minute. “I know that the WPFG does not come around my area very often and I don’t know how many chances I will have in my career to take part in an event like this. I want to make the most of it.”
With his wife, Amy, and their three-pound Yorkie, Ben, in his corner, Adam is ready to take on the world. Even with one kidney he is clearly a force with which to be reckoned.