A New Jersey town held a funeral with full police honors for a 10-year-old boy who died last week from a rare form of bone cancer.
Michael Feeney was named Ridgewood's honorary police chief for 2013 before succumbing Friday to Ewing's sarcoma, a rare, aggressive and often fatal bone cancer that usually develops in children and young adults. The Bergen County fifth-grader was laid to rest Tuesday with service honors usually reserved for members of the police force.
At least 24 police departments were represented at the funeral, NBC News reports. A bugle corps from the Bergen and New Jersey Transit police sounded a faint drumbeat to lead the procession into the church — friends, family and the casket, draped with an American flag. Eighty officers flanked the entrance and stood at salute.
"I lost a partner today," Ridegwood Police Chief John Ward told reporters.
A spunky kid who loved sports, Feeney became a local celebrity in the Bergen County village during his four-year battle with the disease. He swapped campaign tips with the mayor while preparing to run in his school election, according to The Record of Bergen County, and was set to light the village's Christmas tree this week.
"He squeezed 100 years into the 10 years that he lived," his father, Jack Feeney, told The Record.
The boy was so loved in the village that hundreds of people strung holiday lights and ornaments on the family's house and put Santa and his sleigh on the roof while the family was on vacation two weeks ago so the boy could celebrate one more Christmas, the paper reports.
Now, the police department plans to name a future junior police academy after him.
Feeney's death came despite some positive signs in his battle earlier this year. In April, the boy's parents had a lab inject mice with pieces of his tumor to see which drug combinations would work. The treatment, while ultimately unsuccessful, caused his tumors to shrink.