FORNEY (CBSDFW.COM) - Memories of the April tornadoes may have begun to fade, but Kennian Short hasn’t forgotten the victims.
The general manager of the Best Western in Forney still has families living in the hotel, and he’s still looking for ways to help them.
“It’s in my blood,” he explains.
Short grew up the only child of a single mother, moving from city to city, while she worked in the hotel business. Overseeing the hotel in Forney is his “dream job,” he said. The calling took on new purpose, though, when the tornadoes swept through town.
“The electricity went out, but we were still getting floods of people, needing a place to stay,” he said. “You just saw the shock on people’s faces… I remember seeing a lot of sad devastated faces, and I’m talking about the children.”
More than a hundred victims moved into the hotel, and Short began coordinating help. He organized dinners in the parking lot, clothing drives, and entertainment. He arranged for school buses to pick up students at the hotel. He also made sure hotel employees were there with a friendly, “Welcome home.” He was so busy helping others that he didn’t have time to go to the doctor.
Months earlier, Short’s mother had passed away, but not before warning him he needed to get the bump on his back checked out. Short put off his doctor’s appointment, though, so he could be at the hotel. When he finally did go, a dermatologist delivered the bad news.
“You got cancer,” recalls Short. “They told me I had to have surgery in two weeks.”
Without telling any of his guests, Short disappeared.
They didn’t forget him, though. Last month, a tornado victim wrote a letter, calling the hotel manager a “silent hero.” It reached the president of Best Western, who responded by sending Short a letter of his own and a certificate of excellence.
Now back at work, Short insists he was just doing his job. All that time he spent putting his guests before himself, he still doesn’t regret it.
“I promise you to this day I don’t see the problem with that decision,” he said.