Pay It Forward: Fighting Fires, Saving Lives

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MT. JOY, Iowa - Bombs will go off at the Davenport Municipal Airport and people nearby couldn't be happier.

The 2013 Quad City Air Show runs Saturday and Sunday with a salute to World War II air force fighters and includes a re-enactment of the Pearl Harbor bombing in a program called "Tora! Tora! Tora!".

But as the "bombs" go off, a volunteer team stands by to put out the flames.  And the head of that team is our "Pay It Forward" recipient.

"On behalf of Ascentra Credit Union and Channel 8 News, I'd like to give you this 300-dollars to 'Pay It Forward', said Speedway Fire and Rescue captain Karri Coyne as she hands over the money to Chief Gilbert Short.

Gil Short is a man whose made a job out of protecting others.  As Chief of the Speedway Fire and Rescue crews, he's in charge of keeping the Air Show safe.

But he's better known for his work at the track.   It's here where he and his team has rescued countless drivers caught up in their own accidents with the customized gear that saves lives.

"You just never know what you're going to need," says Short as he shows off one of the seven firefighting vehicles his staff uses for rescues.  "But these are the things you need the most for extracation  and things of that nature."

"He's done so much for the community himself and he's even helped others by opening his home up to have them live in his home while they get a second chance to get back on their feet," says Karri, who nominated the man she says is like a father to her.

For Gil, being at the Air Show is just another day's work... without pay.

"It must be fun because there's no money in it," he says with a laugh.

There is plenty of team work and camaraderie among those who volunteer for Speedway Fire and Rescue.  Short credits the other volunteers he works with.  But they, and others, give most of the credit to Gil himself.

"He's so deserving of this award," says Quad City Air Show general manager Margie Hopper.

"He's so a part of the Air Show family and he's just like a father to me.  He's a wonderful man.

Last year's tragic plane crash shows how quickly accidents can happen at the Air Show.  And how important Gil's planning and response can become.

"You have to have a Plan B and C", says Short.

He's been at each air show since it started, making sure there are no surprises.
Except for the surprise Karri and the rest of his staff gave him by Paying it Forward.

"He's always been there for me, I could always go to him, he's been our chief."

If you know someone who gives selflessly, nominate them.  Our Pay It Forward program honors two people every month with $300 from Ascentra Credit Union.