TRIBUTE: Michael Feeney, a popular Ridgewood Police “Chief for the Day” who became an honorary chief for life, lost his battle with cancer Friday. He was 10 years old.
A full police funeral is scheduled for Tuesday morning in Ridgewood. School district officials have also made arrangements for attendance by students and staff at the wake and funeral.
Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward, in conjunction with Schools Superintendent Dr. Daniel Fishbein, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT today that the village’s first-ever Community Policing Youth Ambassador Program will be named for Michael.
Being promoted to honorary chief meant the world to Michael, according to his family.
Ward had given the fun-loving fifth-grader his own badge for the special “Chief for a Day” event sponsored by Bergen County Sheriff Michaul Saudino in June.
But Michael gave it back, telling the chief in serious tones that he needed it.
So Ward had a special honorary police shield made that the brave youngster’s family said he carried everywhere. He and Fishbein also involved Michael heavily in the creation of one of the youngster’s dreams, the junior police academy.
Michael — who had agreed to light the village Christmas tree later this week — was 6 when he contracted Ewing’s sarcoma, an extremely rare, aggressive and often fatal bone cancer that ordinarily develops in children and young adults. Chemotherapy and radiation failed, as did alternative treatments begun this year.
He nonetheless remained bubbly and bright, despite shoulder replacement and the ravages of his disease. He lost his hair, and often had headaches from the treatments, but he kept up his weight — and his grades Hawes Elementary School.
Michael also played his favorite sports — soccer, lacrosse and basketball — and rooted hard for his beloved Giants and Yankees.
“He recently told me that he wasn’t worried about himself but about how his family was dealing with it all,” Ward told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “It’s the very definition of courage.”
“Michael demonstrated the traits of a true leader, inspiring others with his courage, his compassion for others and his desire to make a positive difference for his community and for young people,” Ward said in an official statement.
The wake and funeral will be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (1 Passaic Street, Ridgewood, NJ).
The wake is tomorrow from 4 to 8 p.m.
The full police funeral is at 10 a.m. Tuesday, with burial in Valleau Cemetery on East Glen Avenue, Ridgewood.
Large crowds are expected for both.
PHOTOS, below, courtesy RIDGEWOOD PD: