Justin Cowen, the student at East Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield who battled bone cancer for two years, died from the disease late Wednesday night, Aug. 3, his family said Friday.

"It breaks our hearts to have to share that our son Justin Cowen passed away the evening of August 3rd," Ronee and Tom Cowen said in a posting. "A week prior he suddenly took an unexpected turn and we rushed him to the ER. He became unresponsive 2 days before his 13th birthday, never getting to see the cards and gifts that awaited him. He fought a long and hard battle for over a year and never ever gave up but sadly this disease is merciless. They say it’s a parent’s worst nightmare but it’s much worse. His brother, Brandon's heart is aching and the loss beyond unbearable."

Justin’s battle with osteosarcoma inspired supportive efforts from many Ridgefielders, including penny wars and head-shaving at East Ridge Middle School, caroling singing outside his house in December and, more recently, the Cruisin’ for Justin car show in July. Justin did the honors at the ceremonial lighting of Main Street's holiday lights.