LAUDERDALE LAKES, FLA. (WSVN) - The football team at Hollywood Hills High School honored two fallen officers from the city’s police department in a unique way.
7News cameras captured the Hollywood Hills Spartans as they took to the field to play against Boyd Anderson High School’s team in Lauderdale Lakes, Friday night.
The Hollywood Hills High football team dedicated the game to Officer Yandy Chirino or Lt. John Graham.
“It’s a beautiful thing, building some unity. It starts with the kids,” said a woman who was watching the game.
The Hollywood Hills players have declared themselves to be part of a team larger than their own, standing with their city’s law enforcement community.
But the show of solidarity did not stop there. All of the team’s helmets now have small stickers on the back in the shape of a Hollywood Police badge, with the initials of both officers on them.
Hours earlier, the team invited members of the police department and city officials to the school’s gym to show them the light colored helmets.
“I can’t imagine the pain that our police family is going through right now dealing with these tragic losses,” said Daniel Most, the school’s principal, “and our message to all of you guys is that we here at Hollywood Hills High School and Broward County Public Schools, we are here for every single one of you guys.”
Both officers died hours apart. Chirino was fatally shot in Hollywood’s Emerald Hills neighborhood on the night of Oct. 17.
Hours later, Graham committed suicide. His body was found outside of his car in the parking lot of Broward Mall in Plantation in the early morning hours of Oct. 18.
“You never know where someone’s head is. They can be tough as nails on the outside, but on the inside, they’re struggling to get through every day,” said Hollywood Commissioner Adam Gruber. “Be kind to everyone. You never know the impact your words or actions could have on any person’s life.”
The helmets also have a black and blue stripe down the middle representing the thin blue line, a message of unity and support for a department that’s in mourning.
“Hopefully, we can at least show our support in this way, because we always talk about sacrifice and sacrificing for the game and for education,” said Brandon Graham, the team’s coach, “but these officers gave the ultimate sacrifice. As they protected us, they protected our community.”
“The City of Hollywood, us together, we’re one, so it is very important for the Hollywood Police Department to know that we fully support them through this hard time,” said Dr. Kevin Perry, the school’s athletic director.
The team will also give helmets to the families of Chirino and Graham. A third helmet will go to the police department.
“These officers that we’re recognizing on these helmets were Spartan warriors in what they did, and so, tonight, when you play your football game, and you have their badges on your helmets, you’re carrying with yourselves the sense of duty and commitment that these officers showed to our community,” said Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy.
“For the children to be able to contribute the game to these two officers, I think it’s a good thing,” said the woman watching the game.
“We always support police officers, one of the toughest jobs out there, so it’s definitely, definitely great that the Hollywood Hills football team took the [initiative] to do that. Yeah, that’s awesome,” said Hollywood Hills fan Mike Bell.
“It opened up their minds to what’s going on, and things that do happen to officers when they go out every day to try to protect us. It’s not an easy job,” said Hollywood Hills fan Tannikqua Rhoden.
The team will continue to wear the helmets for the rest of the current football season.
A public viewing for Chirino will be held Sunday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Vista Memorial Gardens in Miami Lakes.
The public is also invited to attend Chirino’s funeral at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, formerly the BB&T Arena, The service is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, but the doors will open at 8:30 a.m.
Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.