A senior at Clewiston High School was set to graduate with his classmates on Friday. Instead, the 18-year-old died in a crash.
The Florida Highway Patrol said Julian Avalo lost control of his car in the rain on Flaghole Road, south of US-27, in Hendry County on Thursday. His car collided with a semi.
Avalo, a kidney transplant survivor, didn’t make it, but his family will remember him as a fighter.
His family said he worked hard to graduate from Clewiston High School to walk across the stage and get his diploma, and they made sure he would still have that moment, as his dad made the decision to walk in his son’s honor.
With pride, sorrow, and his son filling his heart, Carlos Avaló walked across the stage to accept his son’s high school diploma.
“I was going to give him a kidney, but I didn’t qualify because I had cancer in my kidney, and he saved my life,” Carlos said. “Now, he’s doing it again with the walk. I never walked, and he made me walk for a diploma.”
“Today was his day. He made it. We were very proud of his accomplishments. He did it. He was real happy to graduate, and he was so excited. He was looking forward to it, and I couldn’t miss that for him.”
Julian was dedicated to his community, a loving son and friend. Even though he had been through so much, he always smiled.
Due to dialysis treatments, Julian was homeschooled for a portion of high school, but his kidney transplant allowed him to bring his smiling face back to walking down the hallways.
“He never complained, never gave up,” Carlos said. “He just smiled all the time.”
Even though he couldn’t walk with them, Julian’s classmates made sure he was right there celebrating.
“I would have never imagined that such beautiful things would have been done in his honor,” said Julian’s aunt, Marlene Avalo-Gonzalez. “It’s beautiful.”
He was known to everyone as someone who persevered, never giving up in the face of adversity.
“He touched everybody in a type of way, you know; it’s that one classmate that people care about,” said John Flores, one of Julian’s friends.
The principal of Clewiston High School said Julian, a member of the Spanish Club and a volunteer with the fire program, always did the right thing.
“Always has a smile on his face and managed to make everyone feel good,” Flores said.
Classmates held a vigil for Julian on Thursday.
“It shows that no matter who he is, they still care about him,” Flores said.
His friends say they will fight to keep Avalo’s memory alive.
Dealership Alan Jay of Clewiston donated a car to a hardworking student during high school graduation. When they learned of Julian’s death while arriving at the graduation, Alan Jay announced it will also donate $1,000 to the family to go toward funeral services.