AMHERST, Ohio -- A fallen state trooper was honored during a ceremony Friday night before his son took the field for his first home high school football game of his senior year.
There was silence inside Amherst High School's Mercy Health Stadium Friday evening as a memorial flag was raised to honor of Ohio State Trooper Kenneth Velez. Trooper Velez was hit and killed while directing traffic on Interstate 90 in Cleveland in 2016.
"This whole memorial is more than just an honor for my dad; it's a thank you to the whole community that's been here for us through all of this," said the trooper’s son, Christian Velez.
The flag will fly every day in the end zone of the field. Christian, one of the fallen officer's three children, plays for the Amherst Comets.
"When that accident happened, he was a sophomore and now this is his first senior home game, so it's just very exciting for him," said Christian’s mother, Rachel Velez.
Christian's mother says the memorial flagpole was put up as a thank you to the community for supporting the Velez family.
"The community has just really come together for us and this is just our way of paying it forward, and paying it forward to all the men and women in blue that risk their lives every day, getting up and leaving their houses and getting dressed and not knowing if they're going to come back," said Rachel Velez.
Sadly, September 15, 2016, Trooper Velez wasn't able to return to his family. The next day Christian still took the field. He says it was what his dad would want him to do.
"The day the accident happened, my dad called me early in the morning because the next day that game I played my first varsity start, it was supposed to be, so he called me really excited and so we talked about that and then that unfortunately happened later that day, so I knew I had to play," Christian said.
"These kids have really come together, the kids, the school, the teachers, everybody's just been great…I gained a family of brothers and a family in the community," said Christian.
Rachel Velez says money to put up the flagpole was made available thanks to fundraisers from a memorial golf outing and 5K run. The Velez family will do these fundraisers again the next two Saturdays, September 8 and 15.
The money raised is also providing scholarships in the name of Trooper Velez for six Lorain County students.