MACON, Ga. — The ‘Fly Infestation' may sound like a gathering of bugs, but it's actually a gathering of folks throwing a fundraising concert to raise money on behalf of a man– J-Fly.
Jason Laster passed away recently, and was beloved by the Macon music community.
Scott Baston has been playing music in Macon for decades. He says he met J-Fly two years ago.
"When you meet J-Fly, it's like you've known him for your entire life. He would go out and support all of his friends in the local music scene,” Baston said.
Rhiannon Bruner, a fellow Macon music lover, met J-Fly a decade earlier.
"I say he's never met a stranger,” Bruner said. “He just has this way about him -- had this way about him.”
Bruner says she always knew J-Fly was a little sick; however, she and other friends noticed something wasn't right with J-Fly's health earlier this year. She says he was hesitant to go to the hospital, but friends took him for a check up in mid-July.
"Within 24 hours we had found out how critical things were. That it was stage three colon cancer that had already spread, and our options for treatment were limited to non-existent,” Bruner said.
Baston says J-Fly was afraid to seek help because he had no health insurance. He says after J-Fly received his diagnosis, the hospital wanted to release him.
However, Baston explains that J-Fly worked paycheck to paycheck, and was living in a hotel at the time; he says if J-Fly was released back to the public, there would be a high chance he’d succumb to his illness on the streets.
Baston says he and their other friends fought and advocated for J-Fly’s health needs.
"Finally somebody from Piedmont saw that we needed help and they stepped up and we were able to get him into Atrium Health Navcient's Pine Point Hospice,” he said.
J-Fly passed away in early August.
Baston says in the last three weeks of J-Fly's life, they started to plan this concert as one last hoorah to him.
"All of his friends are in all of these bands that are on this bill,” he said.
The concert will also raise money for those who are in situations like J-Fly and don't have people to advocate for their health.
"If he'd had the knowledge that he could've gone somewhere like the Macon Volunteer Clinic who provide healthcare to working citizens in Macon-Bibb county and Twiggs County, who don't have insurance through their jobs, but make less than the monetary threshold, it would've made a really big difference,” Bruner said.
Nancy White is the executive director for the Macon Volunteer Clinic.
“This story really gives us gratification for what we do,” she said.
White explains that she was approached by Bruner and Baston about the fundraising concert. She says that people like J-Fly are exactly the ones they serve at their clinic.
“There are a number of people– like J-Fly– who fall through the cracks of our healthcare system. They work, but they don’t have health insurance offered to them. They don’t qualify for Medicaid, and it’s simply too expensive to afford on their own.”
White says the clinic provides free primary healthcare and dental to those who earn 200% or less of the federal poverty level. She says the services are completely covered by philanthropy and volunteers.
“About 18% of working adults don’t have health insurance in our community. The options are very limited for them,” White said. “That’s why stories like J-Fly’s are so important to tell because there’s so much we can do to prevent someone from getting to this stage, and take care of our neighbors.”
White says that you can apply to see if you are eligible to receive services at the Macon Volunteer Clinic. She says they operate through donations and volunteers, so if you’d like to donate, you can visit their website.
All money made from this concert will be donated to the Macon Volunteer Clinic.
The concert is on October 15. It will feature eight bands that J-Fly picked himself at the Society Garden from noon to midnight.