(Photo: Screen Grab via WKYT)
The collective heart of a Central Kentucky community opened wide for an 18-year-old high school senior after his mother and father died just weeks apart and saddled him with the burden of paying for their funerals.
A few weeks ago, Estill County High School senior Joe Snowden lost his father to cancer, then last Thursday his sorrow was doubled when his mother, 39-year-old Marinda Lewis, died in an automobile accident, according to WKYT.
"[It's] something horrific, it's been absolutely horrible and I can't imagine (how it is) for him," said Debbie Powell, a friend of Snowden.
Along with attending high school, the hardworking teen had been working at a local hardware store to help his mother pay the bills before she died.
"He's a hard worker," Powell said. "He's always had to work and help pay for stuff, and he took care of his mom. [His] dad passed away about two and a half weeks ago from cancer and now his mom has been killed in a car wreck. He doesn't hardly have anybody."
Despite the tragic events, Snowden continued to attend classes.
"He (Powell's son) come home and he said, 'Joe went to school today,' and I said, 'You're kidding. And he said, 'No, he was at school, everybody was running up hugging him and giving him condolences,'" said Powell.
Seeing his tragic circumstances, the teenager's teachers and friends decided to collect money to help him pay for his senior trip and his parents' funerals.
"It's his senior year; it should be a joyous time, but it's gonna be real hard on him here," said Powell. "He shouldn't have to do this all on his own."