Wristband company makes fix for firefighter's tribute

August 24, 2011 9:18:24 PM PDT
A brother's tribute to a fallen San Francisco firefighter wasn't going as planned, so he called 7 On Your Side for help.

Anthony Valerio was one of two San Francisco firefighters who died fighting a residential fire on June 4th. His brother, Mark, wanted to pay tribute to him this month on what would have been his 54th birthday and 7 On Your Side was happy to help.

Valerio visited, for the first time, the place his brother Anthony died back on June 4th. The pain in his heart comes to the surface when he sees reminders of how it all happened. A nearby resident gave him pictures she took of firefighters battling the blaze. Coming here was both difficult and healing at the same time.

"I think maybe it's a little therapeutic just to try and see, try to be aware of where my brother was the last few moments of actually being conscious," said Valerio.

Valerio doesn't want anyone to forget his brother's ultimate sacrifice. He had some wristbands made in memory, and hoped to pass them out during a tribute marking his brother's 54th birthday. One side of the band says "Firefighter Strong" and the other says "People's Paramedic"-- Anthony's nickname.

"He was just an everyman for the public. He didn't care who you were and where you were from; whether you were homeless," said Valerio.

But the wristbands didn't come out the way he wanted.

"It's like somebody just took a metal stamp and hit it with a hammer, and just kind of made a little mark in it?barely legible. There's no way I could give these out," said Valerio.

He contacted the Wrist-Band Company which insisted he got exactly what he ordered. It later agreed to replace the bands for free, then forwarded Valerio an e-mail from Wrist-Band's manufacturer. It said, "Bands are correct on laser engraved. If your customer needs molded style, there will be more costs. Please confirm."

The company now says that e-mail should not have been sent out.

"I apologize and I think that's kind of our fault and our company's fault in kind of responding that way," said Wrist-Band owner Azin Maknojia.

Confused, Valerio contacted 7 On Your Side.

"All of a sudden I got an e-mail stating that my order of wrist bands was being shipped to me," said Valerio.

"We ultimately just remade the bands for him, as a matter of fact not just giving him 50, we have him actually 100," said Maknojia.

All were remade for free. Valerio honored his brother's birthday with a big balloon release and everyone wore a wristband for Anthony.

"They were happy to have them. Some of them said 'I'm never taking them off.' They loved my brother a lot, everybody loved my brother. He was just a loveable guy," said Valerio.

Valerio plans to set up a non-profit foundation and sell the wrist bands to raise funds for a scholarship in his brother's memory.

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