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Jammin for Jesse Supports SSO

When Barb and Garth Owens lost their son Jesse in 2014, the last thing they thought about was organizing a fundraising event in his honour. Jesse lived with schizophrenia and struggled with the illness and finding treatment. After he passed away, Barb’s sister, Rose, approached the family with the idea of a fundraising event.

“We were grieving, but we felt like we could have done more for Jesse while he was with us,” Barb says. “Organizing an event was a way to give back. We had six weeks to put it together, the family came together to help and it kept us busy. It felt like we were working towards something.”

“It was the best thing we ever did,” Garth adds.

The first Jammin’ for Jesse and the Cause took place in May 2014 in Sheffield, Ontario. It was a day of music, food and fun for the small community that came out to support the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO).

“We didn’t find out about SSO until after Jesse passed away,” Garth says. “When we were looking for a charity to support we wanted to find one that was specifically about schizophrenia since it is a disease that doesn’t get enough recognition.”

This year was the third annual Jammin for Jesse took place on May 14, 2016. Members of SSO’s Hamilton and Oakville staff attended, as well as CEO Mary Alberti. It was an extra special event because it would have been Jesse’s 35th birthday. A $10,000 cheque was presented to SSO by Barb and Garth Owens. 

Getting the word out about schizophrenia is one of the main goals for the Owen’s family. “There were no ads for the event, it was all through word of mouth. We live in a small community, everyone comes out and it gets people talking,” Barb says. “People have a good time but they’re also learning about schizophrenia and become more understanding.”

Barb and Garth hope to grow the event in to an outdoor concert in the future. For now they will continue to host Jammin for Jesse annually and continue to raise money for SSO.

 “We’re just a family with a few friends who want to try to help somebody else,” Barb says.