Last Monday, Sept. 12, would have been Paul Walker‘s 43rd birthday. And this year to honor the late actor his brother Cody, 28, along with family and friends, came together for the second annual Game4Paul fundraiser in Los Angeles at Attack studios on Saturday.
“Paul was just the most real guy ever. The best big brother, the best son, and the best father. The best everything,” Cody said through tears during the six-hour live-streamed event he hosted to raise funds for Reach Out WorldWide (ROWW), the nonprofit disaster relief organization founded by Paul.
“He was the heart and soul of Reach Out World Wide before I got involved it, and he was one-hundred percent hands-on with his organization,” Cody told PEOPLE after the event, which included Cody getting his head shaved. “It was his money, he went out, he got his hands dirty, and he’s not here anymore to do that, so my goal, my family’s goal, is to keep this going on forever, for as long as we can.
The event raised over $130,000, which will go to help support the Louisiana flood victims and help ROWW prepare to respond to similar disasters.
And while Cody is continuing to uphold his brother’s legacy, it hasn’t gotten any easier living without him.
“This year was particularly tough,” he says while tearing up. “Things will pop up, things will happen, and I just want to call him so bad. We had so much in common, we had so many of the same interests, it was unreal. I just want to get on the phone and call him. But I can’t.”
“Paul is with me all of the time. I really do feel that, I particularly feel that every time I go to the ocean, I surf, or I spearfish. I don’t dwell on November 30th [the day Paul died in a car crash]. I celebrate Paul’s life, and if it’s not with family it’s with friends.”
Along with his two brothers and two sisters, Paul left behind a daughter, Meadow Rain Walker, now 17.
“She is doing better,” Cody says. “Time does help, but for her it is different than it is for me. That was my brother, and we [were] really close and I love him dearly, but that was her dad, and she was young to have her dad taken from her.”
“But she is doing better,” he adds. “And we’re just protective of her and everyone around her is, and that is why no one hears too much [about her]. That is just the way Paul would have wanted it. Paul was so protective of all of us, he was a very private person.”
Cody also opened up about following in his brother’s footsteps by joining Furious 7 so the popular franchise could finish key shots after Paul died. (The actor died while they were just wrapping up filming and both Cody and Caleb acted as body doubles.)
“I had a lot of reservations and fears,” he says about joining the film. “Being tossed into a major production with people that have been acting for years. These are pros, they have been working with Paul, they know Paul,” he says. “But Vin, and Tyrese, and Michelle [Rodriguez], they spent time with my parents at my mom’s house discussing, ‘Are we scrapping this? Is this something that Paul would want us to finish?'”
“Almost immediately, getting out there on set, letting people put personality to our faces, and it seems like they realized, ‘You know what, his brothers are done-to-earth guys too. This is awesome.'” Cody says. “There was so much love and so much support from everybody, almost from the moment that we walked on [set].”
Following the completion of the 7th installment, Cody was later asked to join the franchise full-time as a new character.
Reporting by Reagan Alexander