Jason Statts, the popular figure who garnered support from Savannah’s music and arts community after being made quadriplegic in a tragic shooting, died in a hospice on September 17 at the age of 48.
Statts graduated from SCAD in 1996 and has been active in the Savannah music scene. In 2008, after his band Surt the Destroyer performed their first (and last) show, Jason and his bandmate David Williams were shot dead in an armed robbery near his home in Ardsley Park. The lone bullet passed through Jason’s neck, severing his spine, and entered William’s neck, severely damaging his vocal cords.
The shooter, Desmond Hunter, was sentenced to life in prison in 2009.
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Confined to a wheelchair and only able to move his head, with limited use of his hands, Statts needed 24/7 home care. A group of his friends formed Friends of Statts with the goal of organizing fundraisers to help Statts subsidize his huge medical bills.
“It could have happened to anyone,” said Emily Doherty, co-founder of Friends of Statts. “I’m a Christian, I’m a Catholic, and I believe we have to stand up for those who don’t stand up for themselves, and I believe if we didn’t come together and do this fundraising – every year there was a lack of funds, about $ 20,000 in Medicaid and Medicare. We were able to increase this amount so that they do not have to pay out every year. “
Since 2009, Friends of Statts has hosted the annual Statts Fest, a fundraising event that features live music, art, food, and auctions. The Statts Fest was often held at the Jinx, which was an important and beloved venue for much of Savannah’s music and touring scene. One year, the Statts Fest was held like a block party with 30 groups. Recent events have also partnered with the Savannah Bananas for fundraisers at historic Greyson Stadium.
This year’s Statts Fest was already scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 10 at Starland Yard before Statts’ death. Now Friends of Statts is reshaping the event to be a celebration of life rather than a fundraiser.
“Last year we were planning Starland Yard, but Jason just didn’t think it was wise for someone to get sick on his behalf,” Doherty said. “We want to keep it in one place this year. They were super cool planning it. They don’t charge us anything and give us a dollar for every draft beer sold. Food trucks donate, so it’s a good place.
This year’s Statts Fest already features Joe Nelson & James Pittman, Damon & the Sh * tkickers and Bottles & Cans on the bill, but now that Statts is dead, Doherty and the rest of the Friends of Statts want to book as many bands as they can. possible. , including a few possible reunions of Savannah favorites.
“I think Jason would like it to be more uplifting and happy,” Doherty said. “More of a party than a funeral.”
In addition to music, the 12th annual Statts Fest will feature a silent auction and Statts Fest merchandise, food from Dark Shark Taco Truck, Chazito’s Food Truck, and Big Boy Cookies, plus a dye station and animals. of the Oatland Island Wildlife Center for children.
The success of Statts Fest each year is a testament to the community’s support for one of its own, organizers agree.
Kevin Rose, founder of Elevated Basement Studios, knew Statts for playing music and for his work as a talented graphic designer. Statts created the album covers for many bands that recorded at Elevated, including Rose’s own band, Superhorse. Statts also designed the studio’s logo which is still in use today.
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“The beauty is that he’s touched the lives of so many people and different aspects of the things he’s done,” Rose said. “You would see people from different pockets of Savannah coming out. Even people who just knew his story and knew what kind of person he was would come out. We had musicians, we had artists, lawyers, boat mechanics, all kinds of people who came for that. It brought the groups together, it gave us all a reason to come together for a good person. Each year it was just a way to give back to someone who had given so much to the community.
“We’re all shocked, but looking at it, he’s not struggling anymore. At the same time, I would love to see this thing go on forever and be a legacy to him because he was a Savannahian who was so big and deserves a legacy celebration like this.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
WHAT: 12th Annual Statts Fest Celebration
WHEN: 3 p.m., Sunday, October 10
O: Starland Yard, 2411 De Soto Ave.