Luis Alvarez, a former New York City police detective who became a leading champion for extending health benefits to Sept. 11 first responders, died on Saturday after a battle with cancer he traced to the months he spent helping clean up the World Trade Center site. He was 53.
In announcing his death, the family of Alvarez celebrated him as a “warrior,” noting the “many lives he had touched.”
Alvarez, who went by “Lou,” was born in Cuba and grew up in Queens, served in the Marines before a two-decade stint with the New York Police Department.
Earlier this month, Alvarez sat alongside former Daily Show host Jon Stewart and delivered a wrenching testimony to Congress in support of new funding for the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund, which is set to run out of money by December 2020.
“Less than 24 hours from now, I will be serving my 69th round of chemotherapy,” a gaunt Alvarez told Congress. “I should not be here with you, but you made me come. You made me come because I will not stand by and watch as my friends with cancer from 9/11, like me, are valued less than anyone else.”