PUNXSUTAWNEY — In times of tragedy, Drinda and Brian Smith believe it is good for people to get together and interact with others to begin the healing process.
A little over a month has gone by since the tragic passings of Joel Riggleman — Drinda and Brian's son — Dylan "Shorty" Behrendt and Sean McConnaughey in a single-vehicle accident Nov. 12 in Armstrong County.
Today would have been Joel's 19th birthday, and his parents will hold a party in his honor at 6 p.m. tonight at the Christian Missionary Alliance gym, to celebrate Joel's life and give people a chance to meet with others and talk about a person who touched so many lives.
"We wanted to celebrate Joel's birthday, but we know so many people have been affected by this tragedy," his mother said. "I've heard that a lot of kids have had a hard time handling all this. We wanted to bring in someone to share some positive, encouraging words, comfort and healing."
To help with the healing process, Jayme Montera, a well-known minister and outreach pastor who specializes in working with young people, will speak at the party. He has been to 15 different countries and will fly in from Colorado to speak at the event and teach the word of God to those who attend.
The party will also feature a musical performance by local musician Pat Sherwin.
Pizza and refreshments will be served at the party, and four $50 cash prizes will be awarded, in honor of the four friends. During the celebration, 19 luminaries will be illuminated in honor of Joel's birthday.
All area youth are welcome to attend.
Anyone who wants to donate or help the cause should call Drinda Smith at 814-952-9127.