WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s been almost a week since Devon Cooley went missing in Gypsum Creek in southeast Wichita. Thursday, he would have been 12 years old.
To keep his memory alive, his family organized a birthday party at the place where Devon was last seen alive.
Birthday celebrations typically are associated with laughter and happiness. But Thursday night’s gathering was somber as Devon’s family members and friends gathered to honor the young boy’s 12th birthday.
Devon’s grandfather and other relatives released dozens of birthday balloons on the banks of Gypsum Creek where the boy was last seen alive.
Cousins Kristie Krumrey and Megan Cooley remember Devon as being a spunky pre-teen with a love of skateboarding and his family.
“He’s all of ours,” said Kristie Krumrey. “We share him. He’s an amazing person. Family smile factory. Yeah.”
Both of his cousins said the celebration also was a way for the family to thank the search crews who have worked diligently to bring their boy home.
“They have done everything that they could possibly do, and we just appreciate everything that they have done trying to find Devon,” said Krumrey.
But above all, the celebration was proof to the birthday boy his family will never forget him.
“We were able to let go a little bit of the sadness today celebrating his birthday, but more of it was letting him know that we are still here, and we are still here and we are still fighting and searching,” said Megan Cooley.
At least 20 people took part in Thursday night’s celebration, most of them echoing the same hope for some kind of closure very soon.