Annual run/walk for mental health in memory of Jonathan Robbins
By Jennie Zeitler
The fourth annual “Let the Sun Shine” run/walk for mental health in Cold Spring will be held Saturday, April 26, with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. at St. Boniface Church. The walk was started to keep the memory of a particular young man alive.
Jonathan Robbins, son of Curt and Kathy Robbins of Cold Spring and grandson of Clara Holtz of Little Falls, was a cheerful, outgoing young man. But a year into college, he became more withdrawn.
“He started acting different,” said Curt.
“As time went on, it got worse,” Kathy said. “He declined to go with us on vacation. Then he didn’t come home for Christmas.”
The Robbinses knew that something wasn’t right, but Jonathan would not admit he had a problem.
“He was really adamant about not getting help, but he was an adult,” said Kathy. “Finally he decided to get help, but then the medicine made him feel weird.”
Jonathan’s parents knew that suicide was a possibility, but they did not think that it could happen right after he came home from treatment.
“We were watching a dumb movie that day and Jon was laughing,” Curt said. “We hadn’t heard him laugh in so long.”
After supper, Jon’s parents and sister, Arianna, went to church six blocks away for her confirmation practice, leaving Jon at home. Before they left, Jon put the phone near him to call for help if he needed to, said Curt.
When they got home, they found Jon hanging in the garage.
Family members and friends helped them get through the tough times that followed.
“My brother and sister-in-law slept here for a week, which helped ease things a little bit,” said Curt. “If we wanted to talk, they were right there.”
Kathy went to a couple of suicide support group meetings. Arianna and Jordan went to a youth grief camp in Annandale.
“We knew we had to do something more,” Kathy said. “Jonathan never wanted to leave this world worse than when he came into it. I had run marathons with Jonathan.”
“He used to say when he was younger, ‘I love to run,’” Curt said.
So the “Let the Sun Shine” run/walk for mental health was born. Jon was 22 when he died, so the length of the route is 2.2 miles.
“We had a group of about five people helping us that first year. We started out hoping for 200 people,” said Kathy. “We got more than 600. That was a little overwhelming.”
The event includes the 2.2-mile run/walk, a .4-mile Penguin Trot kids run, a bake sale, a silent auction and numerous door prizes.
Last year, its third, there were just under 1,000 participants and $20,015 was raised. All proceeds are given to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
Areas of research include depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, suicide, autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s Disease, PTSD, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, Parkinson’s Disease and others.
All ages are welcome to participate.
“We are inclusive to everyone,” said Kathy. “There are six-year-old kids up to people in their 80s walking with a cane.”
A group from the St. Cloud Children’s Home always participates.
“The number one message we want to get across is that there’s no reason to be ashamed of mental illness,” Kathy said.
When Jonathan’s obituary appeared in a local newspaper, his parents were discouraged from mentioning suicide.
“I wish I’d fought harder for it to say that,” said Kathy. “There’s nothing to hide about it.”
Curt and Kathy talk about Jonathan every day wherever they are.
“People back off when I say how he died, but I try to keep them talking about it to put them at ease,” Curt said. “I think people are surprised that we’re so open about it.”
“Our faith has been huge,” Kathy said. “To get through my life I have to believe I’m going to see him again.”
The Robbins family is very intentional about keeping themselves mentally healthy.
“Our kids lost their brother; we try really hard to see they don’t lose their parents too,” said Kathy.
To register for the run/walk or for more information, call Kathy at (320) 685-7443 or visit www.letthesunshinerun.com.