AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A funeral service will be held on Monday for an Aurora boy who died from what his family thinks was a result of playing an online game called the “Blackout Challenge.” The family of Joshua Haileyesus says the service will be open to the public.
The 12-year-old was found struggling to breathe on March 22 in his home. He was taken to the hospital and put on life support and died over the weekend.
The Blackout Challenge, which has gotten attention on TikTok and YouTube, dares participants to choke themselves until they lose consciousness. The Haileyesus family hopes the news of their son’s death will bring awareness to the dangers.
While he was on life support, members of the community as well as those who never even knew Haileyesus reached out to his family sharing their prayers and words of support. The family shared a statement this week that they are comforted and “sincerely grateful to the thousands” who did so.
“It has been moving to witness so many people from around the state and in fact from around the United States; showing love and compassion for Joshua,” the family statement read.
The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. at Colorado Community Church, located at 14000 East Jewell Avenue in Aurora. A burial service will take place afterwards at Olinger Hampden Mortuary at 8600 East Hampden Avenue in Denver.
Haileyesus was the son of Ethiopian immigrants and had several siblings, including a twin brother. The family described him in the following way:
Everyone who knows Joshua can tell you what an incredibly gifted, funny, caring, and happy 12-year-old he is. Together with his twin brother, he would learn and master new hobbies out of pure curiosity and drive. Whether it was playing soccer, barbecuing sophisticated meals (better than any adult in the family can), practicing professional photography, experimenting with 3D modeling software, learning the ins-and-outs of acting including screenwriting and costume design, playing guitar, and planning his future of joining the U.S Army before becoming a First Responder, Joshua has excitement and passion for growing and learning.
Joshua was so smart and impressive, unlike any twelve-year-old that we know; he seemed to have planned all his life in advance with his dreams and aspirations. Beyond his love for knowledge, Joshua has a love for people that you wouldn’t expect in a child. Since he was very young, he always expressed compassion for others. He would pray for people who were sick, stand up for others who were bullied at school, and practice CPR in case he ever needed to save someone else’s life.
A GoFundMe page raised more than $181,000 for the family.