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PHOTOS: Balloon Release Honors 9-Year-Old Bogota Boy's Sudden Death

Jojo Birney of Bogota, 9. Photo Credit: Birney Family/Sugihono Budiman
The Lou Harris Challenger team honored Jojo with a balloon release Saturday morning in Bergenfield. Photo Credit: Sugihono Budiman
Families and friends shared memories of Jojo before setting the green and white balloons free. Photo Credit: Sugihono Budiman
The group gathered during soccer practice to honor Jojo. Photo Credit: Sugihono Budiman
Green balloons were for his Irish heritage and white because of his new angel wings. Photo Credit: Sugihono Budiman
Irina Cytowicz Tesoriero, second from left, remembered Jojo as a "special little boy with an amazing spirit." Photo Credit: Sugihono Budiman

Families gathered at the Hoover Elementary School Saturday morning in Bergenfield to honor a 9-year-old boy with special needs who died suddenly this week.

Joseph "Jojo" Birney -- who was a beloved member of the Bergenfield Lou Harris Challenger group -- passed away on Oct. 16.

He was an active participant with the Challenger program, an extracurricular program for youth with special needs. He was also a student at Oakland's CTC Academy.

Green and white balloons were released in his memory -- green for his Irish heritage and white because of his new angel wings.

"He was a special little boy with an amazing spirit that just melted your soul," co-director Irina Cytowicz Tesoriero. "I will forever miss him."

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