First responders are known as heroes to their communities.
The ones who run in when most run out.
The ones who save and protect, no matter the circumstances.
FF Danny Alvarez was that kind of hero.
Until one day, he lost the hardest battle he ever had to fight,
We fight fires, criminals, diseases. We defeat unimaginable odds.
Yet PTSD and Mental Health is another battle many of us struggle with.
A battle we must win, to honor those we’ve lost, and to protect all of us who are still here,
We walk with the weight of the burden our brothers and sisters carry everyday on their shoulders
to combat a stigma that has gone on for far too long,
and to show those who are hurting they will
Never Walk Alone.
Never Walk Alone was born in 2015 after the tragic loss of City of Miami FF Danny Alvarez. His dear friend, Miami Beach FF Claudio Navas, wanted to honor his memory in a special and proactive way. So what did he do? He walked the Miami Half Marathon in full bunker gear and a self-contained breathing apparatus tank. It was a symbol of strength and courage, a representation of what firefighters are made of.
We focus on building a safe and welcoming environment for first responders and the military, where they can seek help and create awareness around mental health and PTSD. We are committed to fighting the battle of an illness first responders deal with on a daily basis. Our goal is to come together as a community of first responders and military, and shine a light on mental health awareness. We strive to find better ways to create support, making sure our brothers and sisters who are hurting know they will Never Walk Alone.
Danny Alvarez was a breed of his own. He was the life of the party, a top-level firefighter, a proud father, and the guy everyone wanted to be around. After a tireless fight, Danny lost his battle to PTSD in 2014.
Miami Beach Firefighter Claudio Navas, a longtime friend of Alvarez, and the founder of Never Walk Alone, honored his friend through a passion they both shared - running. Navas decided to honor Danny’s service and life by walking the Miami Half Marathon in 2015 in full bunker gear and a self contained breathing apparatus tank. He wanted to put the weight Danny carried for years, on his own shoulders. Soon, the Miami Beach Police, The City of Miami Police Department and Danny’s father, Rodolfo Alvarez, decided to walk alongside Navas in the half marathon.
In 2018, Navas was joined by City of Miami Firefighters in his fight, creating an even bigger community of brothers and sisters walking toward a common goal.
What was once something Danny’s close circle did to honor his memory, has now become a yearly promise made by more than 150+ fire departments all across Florida to raise awareness for PTSD. In 2020, more than 200 first responders, family and friends joined our walk.
It is more than just walking - it is making sure that every step taken combats the stigma associated with PTSD in first responders. It is time to change the conversation and make some progress in this highly stigmatized topic which affects each and every first responder.