(CNN NEWSOURCE) – Weeks after his emotional testimony before Congress, a September 11th first responder died Saturday from complications of cancer linked to his time spent on Ground Zero.
He spent his final weeks pushing lawmakers to help other first responders.
Luis Alvarez, who fought for benefits for other 9/11 first responders, died in hospice care at age 53.
Alvarez made headlines just a few weeks ago as he appeared before Congress alongside comedian John Stewart delivering an impassioned plea to extend the September 11th victim compensation fund.
“You all said you would never forget. Well, I’m here to make sure that you don’t,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez, a New York Police Department Bomb Squad Detective, was among the first responders who went to the World Trade Center on September 11.
They spent weeks breathing in noxious air clouded with debris from the collapsed buildings.
New York officials told them at the time it was safe, but many have since been diagnosed with debilitating illnesses and cancers.
“When they get sick, they die. I have been lucky enough to have 68 rounds of chemo. You heard me right–68 rounds. Many others haven’t had the opportunity to have five and some have none. It is my goal and it is my legacy to see that you do the right thing for all 9/11 responders,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez received a standing ovation for his testimony.
He will be honored with a funeral organized by the NYPD and the United States Military.