AMHERST, OHIO - At an Amherst gridiron, one student is playing for an audience that will never be in the stands.
"He watched all three kids play sports here," said Rachel Velez, married 22 years to fallen Ohio State Highway Patrolman Kenneth Velez. "...With that loss, it's just a different normal, you think about him every single day. You go over those feelings every single day but you try to do your best to make him proud."
Trooper Velez was hit and killed in 2016 on I-90 while conducting traffic. His family says he was just days away from retirement.
Those that knew him best say he was a great friend and fair person both in and out uniform who was most at home watching his three children play sports.
"The feeling in this stadium that night was electrifying and I know a lot of the people that supported us then are going to be here to support us on September eighth when we unveil the flag," said Velez about the day her youngest son started varsity football.
A memorial flag, with a thin blue line, will be permanently flown at Mercy Health Stadium. The Velez family helped raise thousands to leave a lasting legacy with the help of a longtime family friend.
"He has a seat up there that is saved for him that he would sit in and watch the games," said Mike Biro, a long time friend, sitting on the empty bleachers. "He loved being here he loved watching the kids."
Now Biro is working with Velez's children who established the Kenny Velez Memorial Fund which will provide scholarships to Lorain County students to continue honoring their father.
"The American Flag, the school flag, the state of Ohio flag and the Kenny Velez and fallen officer memorial is going to go right here in this patch of land."
As for family, they say they will carry on the legacy of the man who died simply trying to keep his part of the world just a little safer.
"He was committed to his job, committed to his children," said Velez. "He loved them more than anything on earth and they're just trying to show that love back to him."
Scholarship applications for the Kenneth Velez Memorial Fund will begin to be accepted this week. For more information about how to submit an application, please email: email@example.com.