My beautiful son Jonathon committed suicide on April 28th, 2010, after being diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression. He was only 22. I love Jonathon so much and I feel it is my job as his mommy to make the ripple effects of his death be positive. I decided that the best way to make a positive impact in his memory is to raise money for the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Jonathon went on meds about 3 weeks before he died. I do not blame his death on the meds; I just wish they would have been more effective at a faster pace. I know better medicine can be found and even cures, but this can’t happen without funding. Cancer research gets so much funding because when people hear cancer, they think life and death. Mental illness is also life and death; people die from mental health causes EVERY day. Every 16.2 minutes someone loses their battle with it and commits suicide.
I hosted an event, the Let the Sun Shine 2.2 mile run/walk for Mental Health to raise money for research. We also had a .4 mile Penguin Trot for kids. I am from small town USA – Cold Spring, Minnesota. When I decided to hold an event in Jonathon’s memory, I was hoping to have 200 participants and raise $3000. We ended up having over 600 participants and were able to donate over $14,000! When we reached out for help to other race directors in our immediate area for advice, they were not helpful so we did it on our own. It took some work, but nothing that I ever felt I couldn’t manage.
I want people to realize that they really can make a difference. The event was named after Jonathon (I always called him Sunshine and his favorite animal was a penguin) but it was an event for everyone. I made sure to instill in everyone who attended or donated, that they were truly making a difference. They were helping save lives.
If I can host a successful event, anyone can. EVERY dollar raised can make a huge difference. Just imagine if 2 people in every state were willing to hold an event that raised $2500. Collectively that would mean a quarter million dollars for research. Can you imagine what a difference $250,000 could make? We all have it in us to make a huge impact. I don’t want another family to go through what I have and I am willing to stand behind those words. I am willing to be an active participant in change and I am willing to be that person someone can go to if they want to host an event of their own. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I am willing to share every bit of knowledge that I have.
I will never be ashamed of Jonathon or the way he died. He fought a hard battle against mental illness and he lost. There is no shame to that and I will continue my journey to make sure that this world is a better place because he was once here!
Written By Kathy Robbins who organized the Let the Sun Shine Run/Walk for Mental Health which took place on April 28, 2011 and helped raise more than $14,000 for Brain & Behavior Research !