PONCHATOULA, La. -- It's hard for friends and family not to smile and laugh when thinking of 17-year-old Chaston Brown.
'Chaston was a sweet person. Cheerful, liked to laugh and play,' said grandmother Mary Lee Moore.
But it's also not hard to lose that smile this week after the athletic junior-to-be at Ponchatoula High drowned while on vacation in Gulf Shores.
'Really, right now we don't even want to accept the fact that he's gone,'said friend Tyler Miller.
Brown was on that trip with Miller's family and their buddies. They were set to return Sunday night, but wanted a day of fun at the beach first, which turned to terror quickly.
'Chaston would be on Tanner's back and Tanner would try to swim back and the waves would pull them apart, and then one time Tanner turned around and he couldn't see Chaston anymore,' said Miller. 'And he ended up being pulled in by a regular swimmer out there.'
Brown's body was found Tuesday. Loved ones have been planning his farewell ever since, but they're hoping the community can help with the cost, because the loss is tough enough on its own.
'My heart is heavy, sad, and everything,' said Moore, 'But I have to think that somehow or another this might have been his destiny.'
'He was a very bright child, we loved him and we know he's in a good place,' said Stacy Couisan, Brown's aunt.
Miller said, 'It's gonna be hard, but I don't think I'm going to be starting the school year without my best friend because he's always going to be there with me.'
And it's the good memories Brown's friends and family hope get them through Monday's goodbye.
It's scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at Stillwater Baptist Church on Hwy. 22 in Ponchatoula.
An account for funeral donations has been set up at Regions Bank, as well as a GoFundMe.com account, both under Chaston Brown's name. Two fundraisers are being held this weekend as well.
A car wash is scheduled at O'Reilly Auto Parts in Ponchatoula on Sunday, July 27 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. There's also an event at Cajun Water World off Hwy. 445 in Robert, also Sunday. That's from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and it's $10 a person.