ADDISON COUNTY — When Starksboro’s Jonah Rule proposed to his wife Caitlin, it was no surprise to his mother Ann.
Rule’s mother still recalls the first time she saw her daughter-in-law. At that time, Caitlin Rule was a 15-year-old Middlebury Union High School student.
“She was walking down Court Street one afternoon just after school got out,” wrote Ann Rule via e-mail last week. “Jonah pointed to this beautiful, young lady with a long blond ponytail swinging in the breeze. He said, ‘Mom, I’m going to marry that girl one day.’”
• Go to indiegogo.com and donate to the Jonah Rule Memorial Fund at indiegogo.com/JonahRuleMemorialFund.
• Head to the fund’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JonahRuleMemorialFund.
• Donate to the fund via mail. Make checks out to Caitlin Rule and send them to:
Karrie Provencher c/o Rule Family Fundraiser
225 Perkins Road
Weybridge, VT 05753
To his mother’s dismay, Rule — who also attended MUHS at the time — hadn’t even spoken to Caitlin. But that was long before they married and had children of their own.
“They met and the rest is history,” said Ann Rule. “They were best friends. The love those two shared was beyond any I've ever seen. They didn’t need much — no fancy dinners, no wild parties. They loved being alone with their children.”
In a tragic turn of events, the 32-year-old Rule passed away in a Fayston car crash last Tuesday, leaving behind his loving wife and two young children, Austin and Callie. But Rule’s sudden death did more than leave the family devastated, it left them without a source of income. According to Ann Rule, “Caitlin hasn't worked for a long time. So, for her to get back out in the work world is going to be the hardest thing ever for her and the kids.”
Upon hearing the news, friends and family banded together to help the now fatherless family. One of those people was Erin Bettencourt, an old high school friend who grew up in Salisbury and is now living in Massachusetts.
“When I saw this story, and I’m the mother of three young children, I just thought, ‘What would I do if this had happened to me?’” said Bettencourt on Thursday. “My husband works a second shift to make ends meet, and if he was gone I honestly wouldn’t know what to do. I just wanted to help Caitlin and her kids anyway I could.”
Bettencourt went online and looked for a fundraising website to create a support fund for the family. She chose indiegogo.com, a service that only took 4 percent of the total earnings if Bettencourt met her goal, a percentage she said was less than other sites.
She set a goal of $1,000 and within 24 hours had crushed that mark. The Jonah Rule Memorial Fund raised more than $12,000 that first day, averaging more than $500 an hour (for information on how to donate, click here). The online fund, which is set to expire at the end of July, had raised more than $16,000 by midday Friday.
“It’s just such a great community,” said Bettencourt. “It’s not just Middlebury pouring its heart out, it’s everyone.”
Rule’s family is pitching in to help raise funds for Caitlin and the kids, and local businesses and organizations — like Waterfalls Day Spa, Brian Cadoret and people at Stream and Brook Fly Fishing, Middlebury Discount Beverage, Middlebury Fitness and Twitchell Hill Farm — are helping to raise funds for the Rule family.
“We have such a huge support group,” said Ann Rule. “We will survive with the help of everyone who loved Jonah.”
Reporter Andrew Stein is at firstname.lastname@example.org.