The 2017 Ironman in Louisville on October 15th will be different than any other race I’ve done. For the past 15 years, for every 5K to a full Ironman, I’ve had my closest friend and biggest fan by my side through it all, my father, Vince Gavin. He never missed a single race. He loved to see people compete, was so inspired by all the athletes and loved visiting all the small towns and large cities that hosted these events.
On November 9th 2016, my father passed away suddenly. On that day I lost so much more than a dad; I lost my personal hero. We traveled all over the world together for my races to places such as Boston, Panama City Beach, Vancouver and many more in between. Our last trip came in October 2016 when the Gavin family took a trip to Dublin, Ireland where I ran the Dublin Marathon. I’ll never forget being so close to the finish and looking for him in the crowd. I finally saw him at the last second in the midst of hundreds of spectators. He saw me, we yelled, waved and I crossed the finish line. I will never forget that moment as that was the last time he ever saw me compete. He passed away 10 days later.
My father was a proud, well-respected member of the Chicago Police Department for years, serving as Director of Executive Protection for the late Mayor Richard J. Daley and retiring as a Sergeant. He worked the 12th district of Chicago’s west side when it was Skid Row, was involved with the 1968 riots during the Democratic National Convention and received several service awards during his years on the force. His love and admiration for the Chicago Police didn’t end after he left. He attended nearly every police graduation ceremony during his years at Navy Pier and became very involved with foundations honoring fallen officers and first responders, most notably, The 100 Club of Chicago.
The 100 Club of Chicago provides for the families of first responders, police or fire, who have lost their lives in the line of duty. For over five decades, The 100 Club of Chicago has provided benefits to 263 families of fallen public safety professionals. The goal of The 100 Club is to express their gratitude for the jobs that law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics do every day to make our lives safer. Should a first responder die in the line of duty, the 100 Club acknowledges their obligation to those families whose loved ones risked their lives for others.
When putting it into perspective, the Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run) is easy compared to the job that Chicago Police and Fire have to do on a daily basis. Risking their lives to keep people safe is often a thankless job, especially in some of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods. We don’t read in the paper or see on the news all the lives they save and the risks they incur. My father always believed it was important to recognize those everyday heroics and to support the families who lose loved ones in the line of duty, and I am honored to be able to race for the brave men and women of Chicago’s first responders, honor my father and his dedication to the city’s police and to help support a great organization in The 100 Club of Chicago.