On October 4, 2013, 14-year-old New York City resident Avonte Oquendo was reported missing after leaving his special-needs school undetected. For months, the city of New York, family and volunteers scoured the city looking for Oquendo who was autistic and unable to communicate. The search ended when in January, human remains found in the College Point area in Queens were determined to be that of Oquendo though his exact cause of death is unknown.
Last Friday, Danny Oquendo, Avonte's older brother wrote a really touching letter, entitled "The Search for Avonte," to thank everyone who helped and to bring more awareness to how to effectively protect children with disabilities:
"What happened next was one of the most inspiring events to ever occur in my lifetime. As word spread through social networks thanks to shared posts and retweets we began to see massive groups of volunteers coming from every corner of the tri-state area just to help us find our beloved Avonte. Word of his disappearance spread like wildfire and before we knew it there were masses of sympathetic volunteers ready to do anything in their power to aid us in our search. We went from a small family searching night and day for our loved one to a large operation with thousands of volunteers ready and willing to help in every possible way…
Let this be a reminder that at the end of the day, as tough as New Yorkers are, we can come together as one to achieve common goals that are in the best interest of our children, our loved ones, and our city.
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."
I don't know if anyone can actually fully gain closure or fully heal from such a devastating tragedy, but hopefully the family and friends of Avonte have found a place to start.
Image via AP.