Hundreds of people from the Savannah community joined the Friends of Statts at Grayson Stadium for the ninth annual Statts Fest on Sept. 23. This five-hour charity event featured local food trucks, activities for children, a silent auction and live music from bands such as Bottles & Cans, Clouds & Satellites, The Train Wrecks, Damon and the Sh!tkickers and DJ Basically. In their opening act, lead singer of Bottle & Cans, Ray Lundy said a few words about Jason Statts just before concluding his set, “[Jason] gave us some street cred. [He] got everyone to take a chance.”
Jason Statts, a ’96 alumnus of SCAD’s graphic design program and local Savannah musician, was a victim of a random act of violence. In 2008, Statts and bandmate David Williams were in Ardsley Park dropping off some band equipment when two men approached them. One of the men placed a gun to the back of Statts’ neck and shot him point blank. Statts experienced irreparable damaged to his spinal column. Jen Young, ’05 SCAD alumna and current senior graphic designer for enrollment communication, mentions how the incident was completely random. “They didn’t even steal anything. I mean he [Jason] probably had a pack of crumpled cigarettes in his pocket. It was just a total random act of violence.”
Young recounts when she visited Statts after the incident. She recalls that despite what Statts had been through he still made her smile. As Statts was laying in his hospital bed he said to her, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.”
“He made me smile in that moment,” Young said. “He’s that type of person.”
Young uses her expertise in graphic design to support and help raise money for Statts. For the original Friends of Statts logo, Young included a beard, which has since become iconic to the Statts Fest. The stadium was filled with hundreds of people wearing Young’s designs. Children took part in creating their own “Statts beard,” with art supplies donated by Starlandia.
Young said she will continue to support Statts. “Whatever it takes,” Young stated. “Jason needs three nurses. His medical care is expensive.”
All proceeds raised, from food purchases at The Squeaky Beaver to bids on tickets to Revival Fest and a three-day pass to Savannah Stopover, donated by Music File Productions, go toward Statts’ medical expenses. Emily Doherty, a ’99 SCAD camps photo manager, has been an active member on the charity board for the past five years. “The first charity event was held at The Jinx,” Doherty recalled. And since then, the charity event grew to win recognition in 2012, 2016 and 2017 by Connect Savannah as Savannah’s best local fundraiser. Grayson Stadium has held Statts Fest for the past two years, and this year Jason Statts made an appearance. As he was unable to attend last year, friends and participants were happy to see Statts himself.
“The charity is not a non-profit,” states Doherty. “[So] when people donate they are not getting to write it off on their taxes. So these people are doing it out of the goodness of their heart.”
For more information about Jason Statts and the Friends of Statts charity, visit friendsofstatts.com