Life on the road for any musician can be a challenge, but Joe DeVita couldn't have imagined this when he left his hometown in search of a musical adventure.
"I decided to throw myself into the unknown and began hitchhiking with my classical guitar from New York westward," he said last week. "I had about $200 to my name but, for some reason, this felt like the right thing to do for myself. This has been one of the scariest and most librating experiences of my life."
Things would get scarier. DeVita hitched a ride in Kansas from 19-year-old Atticus Carr, who drove him all the way to Durango. Then, on May 15, the two new friends were on their way from Durango to Colorado Springs when Carr rear-ended a pickup on U.S. Highway 160 east of Durango, causing a five-car pileup. DeVita suffered four broken ribs, a fractured vertebrae and a fractured sternum in the accident.
Durango resident Jen Prosser, who recruited DeVita to stop in Durango after catching his act in New York, took DeVita into her home for his first week of convalescence, but because Prosser is leaving town for an extended trip and cannot provide assistance, DeVita now is living at the Volunteers of America shelter.
"That's the best solution for him now, but I just think he's tremendously talented, and he needs help right now," Prosser said.
Facing 12 weeks in a neck and back brace and repeated visits to the doctor, DeVita wants to stay in Durango for medical continuity, but is out of money and unable to perform to earn any as he is accustomed to doing.
Prosser established a charitable account in DeVita's name at Alpine Bank, which DeVita hopes will allow him to stay in the town he's come to love despite a rough first few weeks.
"Ideally, I would love to stay in Durango and help mentor music students and music lovers," DeVita said.
"I sincerely believe that this is a town that is strong in its support for the arts. That is a rare thing to come across, and I would love to be able to contribute to this thriving culture."