RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – As the village of Ridgewood, N.J. mourns the loss of a boy who suffered a rare form of cancer, his accomplishments in just 10 years are being celebrated.

As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, from the first moment when Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward met 10-year-old Michael Feeney, he said he knew there was something exceptional about him.

“He just had this way about him of bringing a smile to everybody’s face and you had to be impressed by the incredible courage through the battle that he was fighting for over four years against this disease, and you’d never know it,” Ward told Adams. “He was more concerned about making people laugh and about trying to make a difference.”

Feeney served as police chief for a day and brought some ideas to the table in his ceremonial role.

“Mike helped us set up the community policing youth ambassadors and leadership program and one of his wishes was for a junior police academy, which will be the Chief Michael Feeney Junior Police Academy,” said Ward.

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The chief said he was struck by the 10-year-old’s maturity, dedication and determination to make Ridgewood a better place.

“We dismiss young people too often,” said Ward. “Mike was one of those young people that taught us and I believe that there are a lot of other young people that can do the same.”

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Feeney made an impact felt throughout Ridgewood, Adams reported.

“So much learned from Michael’s example: to enjoy every moment, to sort of embrace it. To see the glass half full as opposed to half empty. Just have a very positive outlook,” Ridgewood Mayor Paul Aronsohn said. “He was running for student body president in his elementary school so he and his mom came by Village Hall and we went through his speech together. It was a great speech, I didn’t have any suggestions for it.”

Feeney died last month of Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare, aggressive bone cancer.

The department retired his badge number and gave him a police funeral with full honors.

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