"I could die doing what I love, but I could also die never having really lived. To me, that would have been a far greater tragedy."
MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ: Jea Santovasco is asking for a simple request in her son Jay's memory. "Simply be kind, enjoy nature in Jay's memory and if you are a bike rider, snap a pic and post with #RideForJay, this weekend." Friday, May 1st, 2020, marked what would have been Jay Austin's 31st birthday. Instead, for his mom Jea, it was a day thinking of what should and could be for her beautiful son.
On July 29th, 2018, Jay was 389 days into a world cycling trip with the love of his life, Lauren, when they were intentionally and horrifically murdered in a terrorist attack, along with two other cyclists in Tajikistan, a country in Central Asia. According to Jay's mom Jea, they were murdered simply because they were Westerners. "Jay and Lauren were specifically targeted because they were Americans, the other victims were collateral damage."
Jay grew up in Manalapan, NJ and attended high school outside his local district, accepted to a magnet program for the humanities. Jay graduated from the University of Delaware in just two years and received his master from Georgetown University in just one year at age 21. Jay's mom Jea commented to TAPinto, "I'm biased but my son was a brilliant and amazing human being, only wanting to do good. He was passionate about protecting the environment, living simply and minimally." Jay appears in Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things as the tiny house builder as Jay co-founded the first tiny house community in Washington, DC to provide a model for affordable and sustainable housing in an urban community with usually prohibitive rental costs. You can meet Jay in this video, and see his tiny house:
WATCH: Jay Austin's Tiny House
Jay's mom continues, "Jay was also an advocate for living in the moment, which he epitomized. Enjoying the simple things in life and most importantly to him; not putting off life experiences until you're too old or dead. Jay wrote, 'I could die doing what I love, but I could also die never having really lived. To me, that would have been a far greater tragedy'. And Jay did just that. He died doing what he loved!" This next link will take you to Jay's blog chronicling his journey entitled simplycycling.org which is a captivating read.
Rukmini Callimachi, a New York Times reporter, released a well-done documentary entitled Collision featuring Jay and Lauren's story in June of 2019. You can view a short preview here:
WATCH: a preview to Collision, a documentary about Jay and Lauren's story:
On January 1st, 2020, The Jay Austin Simply Be Kind Foundation, Inc. website was launched in Jay's honor. It is an incorporated tax-exempt 501(c) 3 organization with all members being volunteers. "I am currently creator, President and Treasurer. Covid-19 has absolutely sidelined us. In life, timing is everything! In attempting to bring attention to our Foundation during this difficult time, I've created two different posts through the website which are also posted to Twitter and Facebook. This May 3rd, to honor Jay's May 1st, 31st birthday, the foundation initially planned a bike ride and picnic event, two of Jay's favorite activities but, unfortunately, due to the pandemic it is now tentatively rescheduled to September 20th, 2020 depending on the status of the health crisis at that time." Jea commented.
The Foundation on behalf of Jay's birthday is also running a donation campaign through the entire month of May, to enable them to keep Jay's legacy moving forward.
"We are aware that during this difficult time, some of us have reduced or lost incomes and contributing during this health crisis isn't feasible. For those of you who find yourselves in this unfortunate predicament, please flood fb and other social media platforms by sharing our message of soliciting for donations with all of your friends, families and followers instead. No donations necessary, sharing is as powerful if not more so." stated the May Newsletter.
"Our bike ride/picnic event and our 'challenges' for months to come will need to be put on hold. Although Covid has stopped us in our tracks, we are still facing the expenses of maintaining a Foundation; website costs, insurance premiums, filing fees, etc." said Jea. If you would like to make a donation to The Jay Austin Simply Be Kind Foundation, click HERE.
To visit the foundation's website, click here: www.thejayaustinsimplybekindfoundation.com. Simply be kind to the planet, to each other and to ourselves'.