"Not knowing whether we would see our beloved Avonte again ate away our souls," the older brother of Avonte Oquendo reveals in an essay on how his family dealt with the teen's saddening disappearance.
Danny Oquendo penned a heartwarming piece for Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization, that called for a "real solution" to the system that allowed for his 14-year-old brother to walk out of his public school in October undetected. Avonte was laid to rest on Jan. 25 after his remains were found earlier that month in the East River of New York City.
He also thanked the efforts shown by the residents of New York City in spreading the word about the missing teenager and their volunteer efforts. He reiterated throughout the essay that even though New Yorkers are tough, they come together when it matters.
"Avonte’s disappearance started a movement that will set the bar for what needs to be done for years to come in regards to any child that has gone missing, especially those with disabilities," he writes.
He called this moment one of the "most inspiring" of his lifetime.
"On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all the searchers, marchers and everyone who held us in their thoughts for the love and support you have displayed during these extremely rough times. God bless you," Oquendo concluded.
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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)