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The Madison Record
A fire destroyed the family homeplace for Jaedon Sneed, three younger brothers, his mother and stepfather. Sneed works as Kitchen Manager at Old Black Bear Taproom in downtown Madison. CONTRIBUTED

Locals rally to help Old Black Bear’s Sneed rebound from house fire

MADISON – Old Black Bear employees are rallying behind a co-worker who recently lost his family’s home and personal belongings to a devastating house fire. The staff hopes other residents will join the effort to help the family recover.

“On May 4, Jaedon Sneed, our Kitchen Manager at Old Black Bear Taproom, his mom, stepdad and three younger brothers were fortunate to wake and escape a fire engulfing their home,” Todd Seaton, owner of Old Black Bear, said.

The fire started in the home’s garage at 23093 Kirby Lane in Athens. “The home was the longtime family home of Jaedon’s grandfather. Jaedon, his mom, stepfather and three younger brothers all lived in the home and were at the home during the fire,” Seaton said.

“The fire began early in the morning so everyone at the house was caught asleep by the blaze. The fire destroyed the house completely,” Seaton said.

“I’ve been told the closest fire hydrant was about 1,500 yards away and it took several volunteer and community fire departments to chain together to get any relief to the home. It was a total loss. Unfortunately, the grandfather did not have any insurance on the home,” Seaton said.

Jaedon, a bachelor, is 26 years old. His brother Elijah Crawford attends Athens High School, brother Bodhi Crawford is a student at Athens Intermediate School, and Finnegan Crawford attends Julian Newman Elementary School.

“The family is disbursed,” Seaton said. “Jaedon’s mom and two youngest brothers are staying with an aunt and uncle; they’re working on getting a townhome in Athens.”

“Elijah is with another uncle as a permanent home,” Seaton said. “Jaedon is staying with us and with friends, back and forth, but we’re trying to finalize raising money to get him into an apartment near downtown Madison to cut down on his commute.”

Customers, friends and other people have given a “tremendous outpouring of donations. At this point, I believe Jaedon and crew are fully clothed again,” Seaton said. “We’ve had a lot of furniture and supplies donated as well.”

Anyone who wants to contribute to Jaedon and family can visit the GoFundMe account at https://gofund.me/17954281.

“Old Black Bear is matching the first $5,000 — dollar for dollar. Our goal is to get Jaedon in his own apartment close to work so he can focus on his job and helping his younger brothers and not have to worry about traveling so much,” Seaton said.

“To be as young as he is, Jaedon has done a tremendous job for us in the role that he has been asked to undertake. After working with us for a couple of years, he left to take a head chef position at Canebrake Club. Once the position of head chef opened back up at OBB a few years later, Jaedon felt he was ready to tackle it and returned,” Seaton said.

Running a kitchen in such high demand and the size of OBB’S requires an outstanding crew. Normally, OBB sees 300 to 400 people come through on a weeknight in the springtime with a 400-square-foot kitchen.

“Jaedon’s got a tight-knit crew that makes pumping out food for that many people seem easy. In years past, we would be sending people home with gift cards, apologizing for the poor service,” Seaton said.

“It’s the entire crew that makes that happen but it’s the people managing it that keep OBB feeling like one of the best restaurant jobs in the city,” Seaton said. “We have people like Jaedon to thank for that!”

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