RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A 5-year-old boy pictured with angel wings on an Interstate-95 billboard in Richmond’s south side is grabbing the attention of motorists.
The billboard honors the life of a slain 5-year-old Cannon Hinnant, killed last month while riding his bicycle outside his home in North Carolina.
The story of Cannon Hinnant has resonated with citizens both worldwide and locally. 8News spoke with a Chesterfield woman responsible for the billboard and the boy’s father, who says the outpouring of support has brought people together.
“It just really, really got to my heart that, you know, at 5-years-old,” said Teresa Welch from North Chesterfield. “It shouldn’t have ever happened to him.”
Wearing a button donning his face, Welch started ‘Ride on Cannon Richmond Va,’ a Facebook group bringing awareness to his death. Donations poured in for the billboard, a T-shirt fundraiser kicked-off, in addition to a planned community event in Chesterfield Saturday, in support of the family.
Welch says she lost her son, Jeremy, 18 weeks into her pregnancy back in 2011.
“When I lost him I was devastated,” she said. “I was 40 years old at the time so it was like my last opportunity. I thought that, you know, this is it. I didn’t think I could ever have children.”
Dozens of bicycles have been donated for a raffle at this weekend’s event. Set to appear, Cannon’s family to share his story.
“Really looking forward to trying to spread some love and joy out there,” said Cannon’s dad, Austin Hinnan.
Austin Hinnan says the outpouring of support is what’s helped him stay sane through his grief. Support, like the billboard.
Now, he wants other parents to cherish every waking moment spent with their kids.
“I know they can drive us mad sometimes but just don’t take anything for granted,” he said.
A 25-year-old man, a neighbor, has been charged with Cannon’s murder. Hinnant calling for the death penalty, “plain and simple,” as a consequence for his son’s killing.
“What happened to Cannon is terrible, but I do have somewhat a piece of mind knowing that he didn’t have to suffer, versus whether he was laying in bed, in a hospital bed, for weeks and months fighting for his life,” he said. “And sometimes that could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing because they could never be the same.”
The event Saturday runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Harry G. Daniel Park in Chesterfield. The event features a free bicycle raffle, kids karaoke and prizes.
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