Loved ones, classmates, teammates and others in the Downingtown community will gather Wednesday night to grieve the loss, too soon, of one of their own.
Many have been collecting memories of Downingtown West High School football star Costantino Villari since hearing the devastating news that the 17-year-old junior died by suicide when he jumped from the Route 322 bridge on Monday.
“Cos” was a “sweet soul” who had the ability to “to change the room's energy all on his own,” wrote Kiana Taniguchi.
"He knew the right words and just the right jokes when you needed them most," she noted. “He would give the shirt right off his back for those he loved."
Taniguchi organized a GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses and other needs for Cos’s parents, Joshua and Florence, his brother, Guytan, and his sister, Laila.
The campaign had raised more than $33,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.
Mara Grigore recalled running into Cos at Shadyside Park.
“We just started playing together, which meant a lot to a very shy kid like me,” Grigore wrote. “I never forgot that.”
Her smiling friend was more of an outgoing type. Wearing #88, Cos excelled at tight end and linebacker for the Downingtown West varsity, making First Team All-Area.
“Our Whippet football family is crushed by the tragic loss of one of our sons,” the team wrote in a social media post.
“Cos Villari was a gifted young man in every aspect of life. He was an amazing student, a warrior on the football field and a great friend and teammate. Everything he did, he did it at full speed and with great passion.
“The message to his teammates will be to play at his pace and his intensity. Honor him by mimicking that passion he brought to the field. #88 will always be in our hearts and never forgotten.”
A scheduled “Time of Gathering” at Hopewell United Methodist Church aims to grieve not just the loss of Cos but of others from the Downingtown area who died young, as well, organizers said.
“We invite our students, their families, the congregation, and the community to join us,” they wrote. “We’ll offer hugs, prayer, a writing space, and most importantly, a place to honor ALL those we have lost and share support with one another.”
The gathering is scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m. outside the Hopewell Road church but will be moved inside in case of rain.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Or text CONNECT to 741-741.
Remember: You are not alone.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.