On a blazing hot Monday at the end of the Fourth of July weekend, amateur bicycle racer Jeff Harrison was around mile 37 of a training ride on the trails along the Trinity River in Fort Worth when he noticed a commotion at a low-water dam in Trinity Park.
A 7-year-old girl had fallen into the river where water rushes through a gap in the dam used by kayakers. A couple who were planning to adopt the child had jumped in to rescue her. A boy on the bank who couldn’t swim was raising the alarm.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Tuesday that Harrison’s act of valor has made him one of 10 finalists for an award for a single act of heroism given annually to three selfless citizens by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, formed by recipients of the nation’s highest military decoration.
“It’s incredible. I can’t believe I’m even in the same ballpark as these men,” Harrison told the Star-Telegram.
The winners of the “Citizen Service Before Self” award will be honored March 25 at a ceremony near the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
“Jeff Harrison’s act of extraordinary heroism and bravery continues to be an inspiration and a credit to the state of Texas and to his fellow Americans,” says the citation on the organization’s website.
Harrison rides for the Great Brewers Cycling team, formed in 2010 by a group of like-minded North Texans who ride together regularly and compete in USA Cycling events. He wrote a detailed account of the rescue that can be read on the team’s website.
“I had no idea when I jumped on my bike to explore the Trinity Trail that I would be writing a story like this in my life,” Harrison wrote of that fateful July 5. “This has made a major impact on my life and I just hope someone helps me if I’m in trouble.”
Check out the July 5, 2010, report of the rescue on WFAA/Channel 8 of Dallas-Fort Worth.