A friend of John DeReggi Jr., the teenager who died after being struck by an Amtrak train Monday evening in Boyds has set up a GoFundMe.com account to assist the family during their time of need.
The page was set up by Paula Aulestia, whose little brother Sebastian, a junior at Clarksburg High School, was John’s best friend. “John was part of the family,” she said. “Growing up he was always at the house, he would go on vacation with us during the summer or Sebastian would go on vacation with the DeReggi family.”
Aulestia is a 2013 graduate of Clarksburg and has known the DeReggi family since her family moved to the same block in Boyds 15 years ago.
Aulestia said John, who was known as “John-John,” and her brother were inseparable. “They grew up together, went to the same school since elementary school, rode the bus together, hung out after school together and even vacationed together. If you couldn’t find Sebastian, you would just call John-John because everyone knew that they were always together. They were more than best friends they were brothers,” she said.
“John-John was such an all-around amazing kid. He was such a free spirit and was so adventurous and just loved life. He would always lend a helping hand whether it be to his dad or anyone who needed it around the town,” said Aulestia.
“Summers were the most fun and memorable because it was all about the adventure,” said Aulestia. She said that her brother and John and many of their friends loved going to nearby Black Hills Lake. “They kayaked and canoed, and they even built a rope swing to jump off of into the lake. They would spend hours finishing and swimming and at night you could always find them around a bonfire just laughing. They were such good kids they were never trouble makers they just liked to have good clean fun and be kids. They loved life more than anyone, and they enjoyed every minute to the fullest.”
She said John-John and Sebastian would go to FUSE Camp every summer with the Difference Makers Church in Damascus. “They would pray and love God and do service work for the community. Everything they did they did together.” She said her brother is completely devastated by the loss. “Sebastian lost his best friend, his brother and right now there is nothing anyone can say or do that will make it better. Only time will heal. Sebastian has such a strong support group of friends and the community has really turned to support and pray for him and the entire Dereggi family.”
Last night, hundreds of people turned out for a candlelight vigil to honor DeReggi’s life held at the Difference Makers Church in Damascus. Students at Clarksburg, Damascus, Northwest, and Poolesville High Schools wore blue to class on Tuesday as a way to honor DeReggi’s memory.
Aulestia is currently a student at the University of New Haven in Connecticut and wanted some way to show her support and love for John and the DeReggi family so, with the family’s permission, she set up the GuFundMe page.
“I started the page because these boys are my family,” she said. “When I heard the news I was completely devastated and for a while I did not know what to do but cry. Because of my distance and being in stuck in Connecticut for the week with work and school I knew I needed to do something to help the family a and to help everyone in the community that wanted to help but didn’t know how they could help.”
As of 11:30 am Wednesday morning, the fund had already raised $2,140 in only 20 hours. Anyone interested in donating can click on this link to gofundme.com
“I know that money won’t bring John back, but it's one less thing that the family will have to worry about. We live in the best community in Maryland,” she said.”Montgomery County is a family and when we lose one of our loved ones we feel it from all directions. I miss John, and I’m going to miss John more than words can describe and I know it’s going to take time, but he will forever be our Boyds angel.”