I first met Kent Smedley when my younger daughter Rebecca was in middle school. Transplants in Florida, we were searching for a guitar teacher. The day we found Kent was a lucky one for us. Rebecca began to study with him and results were immediate and impressive.
Rebecca is an adult now, with her own band The Crazy Daysies. She’s self-employed as a musician. Just about every time I see Kent, I thank him again for teaching and mentoring her. He was one of the keys she needed to unlock the career she dreamed about as a child.
Kent is an icon in the music community in Jacksonville. It would be impossible to estimate how many lives he has touched with music.
Now Kent and his wife Amy are facing the challenge of a lifetime with their own daughter Camie who is the mother of two little boys.
Camie, who is 25, was in a horrific car accident in December, 2015. Her injuries were extensive and so was the care needed to address them. She had surgery to remove part of her skull because her brain had swollen. Her spleen was removed. Both lungs collapsed because of broken ribs. Her liver and a kidney were lacerated. A contusion in her right hand, broken bones in her spine and elsewhere—it took a year of treatment and she’s not out of the woods yet.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, Camie had more surgery to replace the bone that had been removed from her skull. The surgery went well. Rehabilitation and therapy are ongoing.
Amy has stayed with Camie in Northern California where the accident happened. Kent has traveled back and forth as much as possible. Camie’s sister Kaitie has traveled to California when she could, managing to continue her education at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. Kaitie is majoring in music performance.
Needless to say, demands on the family have been grueling, but love gets us through that and more when a child needs us. Camie’s young sons, Christopher (4) and Elijah (2), are two of the biggest inspirations for her recovery, no doubt. When the accident happened, Camie was working several jobs in order to take care of her boys.
Camie can soon be moved from the hospital in Healdsburg, California, to a facility in Florida. The charitable organization Grace on Wings will transport her, with medical techs and pilots donating services. There is a catch, however. Costs for the fuel–$25,000—must be provided by the family.
There’s a GoFundMe page for Camie, and the amount inches its way forward. But the funding still has a ways to go.
Ray Lewis, another widely known personality in Jacksonville’s music community, is holding a special fundraiser for Camie on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. The event “Oldies Night” will also be a celebration of Ray’s birthday. The venue is Mudville Music Room (3105 Beach Blvd.) in Jacksonville.
Organizers are asking guests to make reservations by calling (904) 352-7008. Items will be raffled, and guests are also asked to donate as generously as possible at the door in lieu of purchasing tickets. Many of the musicians participating will be familiar names to Floridians:
Don Casper, Brent & Dawn Marie Bevis, Larry Mangum, Mike Shackelford, Julie Durden, Madi Carr, Tim Mylod, Kitch ‘N Sync (do-wop – Mack Tyner – Paula Tyner – Rick Schultz – Dan Peyton ) and Linda Grenville – Matt & Robin Soergel. Roy Peak has volunteered to be the sound-tech.
Meanwhile, the family is facing another challenge many of us who have had a relative recovering have faced—finding a proper facility close to home where Camie can complete her rehabilitation.
Anyone who’s ever met Kent and Amy comes away with a sense of light because they are both kind, spiritual people. Kent is an amazing guitarist with a storied career in his field. Right now this family needs our community, and I am in hopes the remainder of funding will come in quickly.
If you can attend the fundraiser, please do and please donate as much as possible to help Camie. Otherwise, you can donate via the GoFundMe page.
Camie’s accident was the stuff of nightmares parents sometimes fear but never face. Knowing Kent and Amy as I do, I am certain they’d appreciate prayers as well.
In the next few days, Elijah will celebrate his birthday. The best gift of all would be that his mom continues to improve, and ultimately will be able to celebrate future birthdays with the little boy she worked so hard to take care of until fate intervened and the lives of a family were thrown into chaos with no warning weeks before Christmas.
(KBD/Dec. 1, 2016)