It was a bittersweet moment for Claire Henry in the media center of Rockdale County High School Friday morning.
Henry, the mother of Jordan Savage, a 2014 RCHS graduate who suffered with lupus and succumbed to the disease two weeks after graduating at the age of 19, could only shake her head and smile at the legacy her son has left behind.
In honor of Savage, the Rockdale County Touchdown Club and the Rockdale County Dugout Club held a Lupus Awareness Night during the RCHS rivalry football game versus Salem High School Aug. 29 in which they raised $500 from donations.
In a meeting that lasted about 30 minutes, Antonio Davis, president of the Rockdale Dugout Club, presented the $500 check to the Lupus Foundation of America Georgia Chapter Friday morning.
“It makes me feel good,” said Henry about the hundreds of dollars generated in one night. “His living, as they would say, was not in vain.”
Maria Myler, president of the Lupus Foundation of America Georgia Chapter, accepted the check on behalf of the nonprofit organization. She the donation will be used to help fund programs that educate and provide information to families across the state of Georgia about the disease lupus.
“Every penny counts,” she said.
Myler met Savage in October during a conference about lupus and says losing him is a terrible lost.
“It’s a sad occasion (with) the loss of someone so young just starting the beginning of his life and who fought so bravely,” she said.
Savage battled lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, for about three years before dying June 2. He became extremely sick in 2013 and had to stay in Emory University Hospital for five months, including the two months in which he slipped into a coma.
But, Savage recovered, eventually being granted the opportunity to go home after rehabilitation. Soon after, he decided he wanted to forgo being home-schooled and get back to his regular schooling with his classmates.
So transitioning from using a wheelchair to using a walker for mobility, Savage made his way back to halls of RCHS.
“He rose above all that,” said Henry. “He was a warrior.”
But that wasn’t enough for a determined Savage. He wanted to stay active within his school community. Unfortunately, he couldn’t re-gain his position of the baseball field, Savage was part of the RCHS baseball team prior to his bout with Lupus, but he stayed active in school athletics and joined the girls’ soccer team as a manager.
He also wanted to try out for the golf team but, Henry said, “I told him that would be too much sun because sunlight affects people with lupus.”
Still, she loved to see that fight and determination in her only child.
“He wanted to stay involved,” she said “He always had the determination. He always had dreams. He always had goals. He was just a great kid.”
Savage had planned on enrolling into Oglethorpe University this fall.
Life after death for Savage
The legacy of Savage could be one that lasts a long time at RCHS and in the Rockdale County community.
There are already talks of doing another Lupus Awareness Night sometime in the spring at another sporting event.
His family also started a “go-fund-me” account online to help establish the Jordan D. Savage Foundation, with the proceeds being used to help children from single parent households become involved in sports.
The nonprofit will also help fund the foundation’s first event, a Savage Run 5K, which is scheduled for June 2015. As of Friday afternoon, the go-fund-me account has raised $85.
Savage was truly an inspiration and his family and friends want his memory to continue live long after he’s gone, says Davis.
“We not only wanted to give back to the community, but have this as Jordan’s legacy,” he said. “To see that young man go through that fight and achieve his ultimate goal and graduate, it really was inspiring.”
If you would like to contribute to the Jordan D. Savage Foundation, go to www.gofundme.com/ejgcqk .