Hundreds of people were reportedly in attendance for the funeral of Luis Alvarez, an NYPD police detective and Ground Zero first responder who spent his final days
Services for Alvarez, 53, were held Wednesday in Queens, New York. TMZ reported that attendees included former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, who with Alvarez, appeared before House Judiciary subcommittee on June 11 and urged Congress to approve additional funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Alvarez was placed in hospice care a day later.
Mattew McCauley, Alvarez’s lawyer and former NYPD colleague, announced the police detective’s death on Saturday. He reportedly died after a three-year battle with colorectal cancer which was attributed to the months he spent at Ground Zero searching for fellow first responders.
According to the Never Forget Project, FDNY members who were at Ground Zero were found to have gotten thyroid, colon, prostate, and blood cancers at higher rates than those who didn’t. CBS News reported that more than 50,000 people have suffered illnesses caused by toxins that were released after the Twin Towers fell.
Alvarez crusaded for an extension to the survivors’ fund, which The New York Times noted is expected to be depleted by the end of next year. The $7.3 billion fund was started in 2011 to financially support first responders and families for illnesses attributed to the 9/11 attacks.
During his final visit to Washington, D.C., Alvarez revealed to Congress that he was going through his 69th round of chemotherapy.
“I will not stand by and watch as my friends with cancer from 9/11 like me are valued less than anyone else because of when they get sick,” he told them.
“I’m going to make sure that you never forget to take care of the 9/11 responders.”
The Times reported that Alvarez leaves behind a wife and three children. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who attended Wednesday’s funeral, revealed Monday that he plans to posthumously award Alvarez with a key to the city “as a symbol of our profound respect and gratitude for his service.”
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[Featured image: Luis Alvarez/Facebook, US Network Pool via AP, Pool]