Sunday marks two years since the Merrimack Valley was rocked by gas explosions that left 18-year-old Leonel Rondon dead and 25 others injured.
During an emotional ceremony Sunday, Rondon's family thanked firefighters for their continued efforts to keep their community safe.
“These brave men and women rushed to save lives and they saved every life except for one,” said Doug Sheff, who represents the Rondon family.
Leonel Rondon, 18, was killed when a chimney fell on his car on Sept. 13, 2018. First responders did everything they could to save him.
“I miss hearing his voice,” said Lucianny Rondon, Leonel Rondon's older sister.
Behind a mask and through her tears at the ceremony Sunday, Lucianny Rondon talked about all the things she misses most about her little brother.
“His jokes, his laugh,” she said.
To prevent another family from this kind of pain, the family teamed up with Sheff Law to create the Leonel Rondon Memorial Award.
On Sunday, they presented the award along with a $5,000 check to the Lawrence Fire Department.
“It’s honoring, it’s humbling,” said Fire Chief Brian Moriarty. “Out of their loss will come greatness.”
The Rondon family says they’ve found comfort in turning their heartbreak into a helping hand.
“It makes me feel with a little bit of joy after all that we have been through,” Lucianny Rondon said. “Because at least I know that we are giving back to the community and the firefighters who risk their lives.”
Firefighters say they will use the $5,000 to buy more life saving equipment in honor of Leonel Rondon.