Eighteen months after the tragic death of Paul Walker at age 40, his younger brother Cody misses the man he looked up to all his life – and is working hard to continue the Fast & Furious star’s legacy.
Still grieving the loss of his oldest brother, Cody, 26, a paramedic, has stepped in as brand manager for Paul’s disaster relief organization Reach Out Worldwide.
“Aside from acting, his daughter [Meadow, 16] and ROWW were the most important things in his life, hands down,” Cody told PEOPLE exclusively at a recent ROWW fundraising event – where Tyrese Gibson and Michelle Rodriguez made surprise appearances – that raked in more than $100,000 for the organization. “He was very proud of ROWW and the incredible people he had surrounded himself to make up that team. I’m just doing the best that I can to keep his vision consistent.”
Asked how he hopes Paul is remembered, Cody is openly emotional while marveling at the outpouring of love his brother received after his death.
“Paul was a huge movie star, and I think really what I didn’t realize about Paul that I’ve since learned, is how loved Paul was to this scale,” says Cody, who shares memories of Paul and family photos in the new issue of PEOPLE. “Everyone that ever encountered him, he had a way of just talking to people and just making everyone – regardless of whether he just met you or not – feel like you were the most important person in the world.”
For Cody, his oldest brother wasn’t “just the car guy,” he says. “He loved cars, but he had so many different passions, so many different loves. [He was] multi-faceted, [an] adventurer, spontaneous, obsessive-compulsive. He was a really great example for me.”
When Cody was growing up, the brothers’ relationship “went through different stages,” Cody says, since Paul was 15 years older. “There’s some things that you can’t share with a sibling when they’re that young. And then over the course of time, you start learning what kind of person they really are.”
Purposefully keeping his humanitarian work under the radar, Paul “didn’t ever want any recognition for it,” says Cody. After Paul’s sudden death in a car crash, the foundation he created in 2010 after the Haitian earthquake was left reeling. “[It] will never, ever be the same,” Cody says. “After Paul passed, there were a lot of unknowns because Paul was such a huge factor behind it. He was the sole contributor. He just paid for everything.”
Since fans discovered Paul’s dedication, the organization, which sends rapid-response teams to disaster areas, has received support from all over the globe. “We’re embracing the support,” says Cody. “It’s worldwide support. It’s incredible.”
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On a recent aid trip to earthquake-stricken Nepal, Cody and his teammates felt the movie star’s presence “every step of the way.”
“He’s totally there, there is no doubt,” says Cody. “Paul would have jumped on a plane and asked questions later, and been there a day before we were there. That’s who he was. He was fearless.”
For more on Cody’s plans for the future and exclusive photos of him and Paul, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE Magazine, on newsstands Friday