Students release balloons to honor friend who died of cancer

One balloon landed at Boston school

RUSSIAVILLE, Ind. - Students at a Russiaville, Ind. elementary school released hundreds of balloons to honor their friend and fellow classmate who had recently died of cancer.

Mason Hopkins, 7, died Oct. 5 after a battle with brain cancer.

Students and friends at Western Primary School were optimistic that Hopkins’ cancer would stay in remission. Teachers said it was a blow to everyone when his cancer returned.

The first-grader loved to read about the Berenstain Bears and to play with his friends. Teachers said it was difficult to see him every day as his health declined.

Hoping to keep his memory alive, friends, teachers and parents organized a balloon launch in his memory.

They tied a message of love onto 600 balloons with information about Hopkins as well as his picture.

"We would love to hear how finding this balloon brightened your day knowing that we are trying to send forward the cheers and smiles Mason left us," part of the note read.

The note asked people to contact the school to let them know how far the love of Hopkins spread.

The group never imagined that one balloon would travel over 900 miles away to another school in Massachusetts.

"Some of our balloons only went as far as Kokomo, so for this one to go all the way to Massachusetts is pretty amazing," Western Primary School Principal Steve Arthur said.

One of the balloons landed at Hunking Middle School near Boston. Principal Jared Fulgoni said he believed it was destiny.

"When I saw it, it just seemed to be more than wind current, it seemed destined to come to our school," Fulgoni said.

One of the custodians at the school had lost a son to brain cancer.

"For him, he said he believed it was the first time since his son passed that he really felt a sense of peace," Fulgoni said. "Just the fact the balloon traveled this far and consoled a parent was pretty powerful." 

"Where it landed, the school, they also needed an uplifting," Hopkins' former teacher Patricia Hoppes said.

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