RIDGEWOOD, N.J. – Alana Kerner, covered in rainbow colors, laughed as she stood on line for the rock climbing wall at Michael Feeney’s Best Day Ever in Ridgewood Saturday.
“I went to school with Michael for five years,” Kerner said. “When he died and the Best Day Ever began, I came to the first one and I keep on coming. I’ll never forget him. He had the best sense of humor I’ve ever come across.”
She and her friend, Olivia Lopez, both students at Benjamin Franklin Middle School, which hosted the event, were two of more than 220 youths who registered for the color run that kicked off the five-hour third annual party.
Each booth and attraction — from Ring Toss and Tubs of Fun to PK Shoot Out and Bungee Basketball — was sponsored by a Ridgewood family, civic organization, or business.
Paul Semendinger, principal of Hawes Elementary School, which Feeney attended, allowed himself to be submerged in the dunk tank many times in the spirit of the day.
“It’s wonderful that out of a tragedy—Michael passing away from cancer—the family did this,” Semendinger said. “It’s great that they could pull it together even once. But now it’s become a recurring event with kids from elementary through high school.”
Hudson Feeney, a second-grader at Hawes, ran the Sports Wheel Booth. Instead of getting presents for his birthday, the 8-year-old asked for money, which he used to sponsor the booth.
“I did this because I wanted to support the foundation,” said Hudson Feeney, who is not related to Michael Feeney’s family. “I knew Michael. He was in my brother’s class.”
The young Feeney died Nov. 29, 2013 after a four-year battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer. Known throughout the village for his bubbly personality, he always used to say that, whatever he did, he had “the best day ever.”
The event raises money for four charities, including pediatric cancer research and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Thirteen dozen monarch butterflies were released to mark what would have been Michael Feeney’s 13th birthday. He was born June 21.
At midday, Jill Feeney, Michael’s mother, looked over all that was happening on the field.
“It’s going great,” she said. “Everybody’s having a good time.”