This year, the award was accepted by the mother of fallen Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy.
The ceremony also featured a tribute video to Kennedy.
WATCH: Firefighter Kennedy Tribute Video
Kennedy was killed in the line of duty last March, fighting a massive fire in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood.
In addition to being a firefighter and Marine, Kennedy spent the last seven years of his life as a volunteer big brother. He was paired with a boy from Milton, Alex Beauzile, who is now 14 years old.
Beauzile and his family attended the award ceremony on Thursday night. Describing his friend and mentor, Beauzile says Kennedy “was a perfect match to me; he was just like me.”
“He made me have a new life for myself,” Beauzile said.
Every year, the group asks its little brothers to recommend their big brothers for the “Big of the Year” award, but after Kennedy’s death, CEO Wendy Foster said “it was absolutely unanimous” that the honor be given to him.
Foster said that Kennedy was the ideal volunteer big brother, offering advice, friendship, and counsel to a young boy looking for a male role model. She also said the organization has since heard from several other potential big brothers who are looking to participate in Kennedy’s name.
For her part, Kennedy’s mother says she was both honored and proud to receive the award in her son’s name.
Kathy Crosby-Bell called the evening “bittersweet,” adding that her son likely would have felt “intimidated” by the thought of being singled out as an example of an award-winning big brother.
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