ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WAVE) - John Thomas Wiglesworth, 17, took the role of being a friend very seriously.
“His favorite thing to do was help others,” BJ Wiglesworth, his dad, told WAVE 3 News with tears in his eyes on Thursday. “It always was.”
John Thomas was known as JT by his friends.
"John Thomas was a ball of energy," his mom Tonya Wiglesworth said. "He never met a stranger."
JT was killed in a car crash in December 2019, right before Christmas.
For the Wiglesworth family, the pain of his death comes in waves. At first, they didn’t know what to do without him, but the community stepped up in their time of grief.
“People just started coming out of the woodwork to help us,” BJ Wiglesworth said. “And I would hate to think that any family would have to go through that without that support. So that’s what we want to be.”
Tonya and BJ Wiglesworth have heard story after story about their son and in every story, one thing remains the same.
“Every story started the same: ‘He was my best friend,’” Tonya Wiglesworth said. “He just had that element of caring for other people. It really did blow me away.”
After hearing the way their son loved others, the two felt inclined to do what their son would do: help another family.
This year, they launched JT’s Way, an organization aimed at helping families who may lose a child with funeral costs and information on what to do.
“Tonya and I both had no idea what to do. We had no idea who to call. We were sitting at home and had those questions very early on,” BJ Wiglesworth said.
The Wiglesworth's said JT's funeral cost about $15,000, a cost they were not prepared for.
“JT’s Way has given Johnnie’s death a purpose,” Tonya Wiglesworth said. “To see people come together the way they did to help us was amazing. And we just want to make sure to fill that gap and be able to help other families that have to go through this.”
After the pandemic hit, the organization had to quickly shift gears on their original skeet-shoot fundraiser. In a few weeks, they came up with a new plan: BJ would go up 30 to 40 feet in the air in a scissor-lift and stay there for 72 hours.
“I kind of wish I had said maybe 24,” BJ Wiglesworth joked Thursday afternoon.
From Thursday at 6 p.m. until Sunday, BJ will be in the scissor-lift, equipped with a portable toilet, a small tent, cooler with some food and a chair to sit in.
JT's Way is hoping to raise $20,000 to start financially assisting families who lose a child with funeral costs, burial costs and other bills.
“Most people have to go back to work after the loss of a loved one,” Tonya Wiglesworth said. “Three to five days after the loss of a child. That’s just too soon. So if this would allow them to take just a little more time off, then that’s what we’re hoping for.”
About an hour after BJ went up in the scissor-lift Thursday, the Central Hardin 2020 senior class was honored at the high school with a drive-thru parade in the parking lot.
To help JT’s Way or to get involved, click here.