“I knew Mike always had my back,” said 14-year-old Alex Beauzile in Big Brothers Big Sisters Mass. Bay’s video tribute to fallen Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy. “He was my big brother for seven and a half years. Those were some of the best years of my life.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is a national organization that assigns volunteer mentors to enrolled kids in an effort to “nurture children and strengthen communities.” Mentors are called “Big Brothers” or “Big Sisters” and spend time with their “Little” at least once a week, acting as a role-model.
The nonprofit honored Kennedy at their annual Big of the Year Gala on May 22, making him the first Big Brother of the Year to be named posthumously, according to Fox news.
A Ladder 15 firefighter since 2007, Kennedy died in a nine-alarm Back Bay fire on March 26 along with Engine 33’s Lt. Ed Walsh. Kennedy also served more than six years in the U.S. Marine Corps, earning the rank of Sergeant during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Of his time in Iraq, Kennedy’s mother says in the video, “He always, always wanted to come back to Boston.”
The organization stated in Kennedy’s Big of the Year 2014 Tribute that “Many have reached out to support Big Brothers Big Sisters and to inquire about becoming a Big in Michael’s honor.”