The family of 9-year-old Jacob Thompson, the little boy who captured the nation’s heart when he asked for Christmas cards early, says he has passed away.

Jacob’s family says he passed away peacefully Sunday following his 4-year battle with neuroblastoma.

The family decided to celebrate Christmas early and word spread that Jacob’s wish was to receive Christmas cards from all over the world, and he did.

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Each and every person who sent Jacob a Christmas card, a gift, a Facebook message or video, or a prayer made a difference in the final days of his life. You brought Jacob joy, and you brought us all optimism for the future. Thank you for taking the time, and taking an interest in our sweet boy’s journey. Sadly, there are many others like him that we hope you will continue to help,” Jacob’s family said in a statement. “We owe a deep gratitude to the people and organizations who have helped us along the way, including the staff at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.”

To make a donation in Jacob’s honor, please do so at Operation Gratitude, to a penguin rescue group, or pay it forward in your community, Jacob’s family said.

“Do something for others, donate blood and platelets, or use your talents to bring shelter, nourishment or joy to those in need in honor of Jacob’s memory. And most importantly, always remember to #LiveLikeAPenguin for Jacob,” Jacob’s family said.

Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that most commonly affects children ages five or younger, and it accounts for 7 out of 10 childhood cancers. Every year, 800 new children are diagnosed with neuroblastoma in the United States.

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