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Running to remember a friend
Scholarship being set up in the name of Levon Jones
Holsonback photo
Michael Holsonback, center, stands with the parents of Levon Jones, Levon, Sr. and Mae Helen. Holsonback is raising money to endow a scholarship in Jones' name. - photo by Special
    While most people were sleeping this past Saturday morning, Michael Holsonback was busy pounding out 20+ miles on the roads of Statesboro.  At 3:13 a.m., Holsonback set out to begin a 23-mile run from his home off of Pulaski Highway to Magnolia Baptist Church where his friend and teammate, Levon Jones, rests.  
    On New Year’s Eve 2004, Jones, a young man from Statesboro, died on the sidewalk outside the Razzoo Bar and Patio in New Orleans with four bouncers pinning him down.  
    Holsonback is training for the Big Sur International Marathon on April 26 in Monterey, Calif., and he is running in this marathon to honor the memory of his friend.  
    Jones, a Georgia Southern student, was in New Orleans for a flag football tournament. The four bouncers pinned him down after Jones’ friends challenged a doorman’s refusal to let them into the bar, saying they didn’t meet the dress code. Jones’ family said white patrons in similar attire were allowed in.
    The coroner said Jones suffocated as one bouncer held him in a headlock for 12 minutes and another pushed down on his back, preventing him from breathing. A third held Jones’ legs. Coroner Frank Minyard found that Jones was asphyxiated and classified the death as homicide.
    To many in the Statesboro area, Jones was known simply as Bena.
    “Bena was a special young man whose energy and passion for life rubbed off on anyone who came in contact with him,” Holsonback said.
    Holsonback recently established the Levon S. Jones, Jr. Memorial Scholarship at Georgia Southern University in honor of his friend. He said Jones’ parents, Levon, Sr. and Mae Helen, are very supportive of his effort.
    “Michael and his friends are truly those unsung heroes of today,” Levon Jones, Sr. said.  “As Levon’s parents, there are no words to express what we feel in our hearts for all the people who have helped our family through this tragic time of our lives.  It’s been over four years since Levon’s death, but through all the pain and suffering, God has made it possible for us to embrace the love of those left here on earth to share Levon’s memories just as he was.”
    The Jones family is pleased a scholarship is being endowed in their son’s name.
    “His life was short, but his spirit will live as long as the people who knew him,” Levon, Sr. said. “So please help keep his spirit alive by donating to the Levon S. Jones, Jr. Memorial Scholarship.  Brotherly love has no boundaries…”
    While the specific eligibility requirements to reward the scholarship is in the works, it will be awarded to graduating Bulloch County seniors who desire to attend Georgia Southern University.
    “Bena had a dream to be a college graduate and go out into the world and make a difference with others,” Holsonback said.
    It takes $15,000 to endow a scholarship at Georgia Southern.  To date, $5,867 has been raised towards.  Holsonback said the goal is to raise the remaining endowment balance by October 2010.
    “Marathon training is the easy part of this journey,” Holsonback said. “I train five days a week, putting in lots of mileage throughout Bulloch County. Raising money is the hard part.  he asking of others to give to a noble cause is a huge challenge.  If I don’t ask, I cannot be turned down, but on the other hand, no one will have an opportunity to say ‘yes.’”
    If you would like to make a donation to the Levon S. Jones, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, you can go to or contact Holsonback at (912) 852-3328.
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