As many of you know, I recently hit a long-term goal to raise $1 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (actually, $1,149,005 at the moment, and rising), but many of you don’t know the story behind it.
A little over eight years ago, one of the most horrific, tragic events in our country’s history happened: a shooter entered Sandy Hook Elementary school, killing 20 babies aged six to seven, along with six adults. As a new mom, I was deeply impacted by the news, which sent me into a state of depression and sadness for those parents, as well as fear – was this going to trigger other people to do the same? Is MY child safe at the preschool we sent her to?
As parents rushed to the school, they were told to go to a nearby firehouse to be reunited with their children. I imagined being one of those parents, waiting for my child to be brought to me. Watching as kids were brought in, one by one, but not seeing mine…waiting as the minutes ticked by and the numbers dwindled. I cannot imagine the gut-wrenching mix of despair and hope they must have felt during those moments…or how they felt when they knew it was one of their babies lying on the ground somewhere in that building and were told they could not go to gather their child’s lifeless body.
My productivity dropped like a rock because I couldn’t turn off the news, and the sorrow overwhelmed me. I questioned how God could allow something like this to happen, and I vowed to never again say things like “Everything happens for a reason” or “No matter how bad things are, they could always be worse.” What could POSSIBLY be worse for those parents and families? I wanted to do something, but what? Donate money? Send a heartfelt letter? None of it seemed to fill that hole in me.
The shooting happened right before Christmas, and Dan and I had taken Jamie to the mall to do some shopping. As we walked by a jewelry store (whose name now escapes me), Jamie ran into the store to grab one of the big teddy bears out on display that was part of a fundraiser for St. Jude that the store was participating in.
As I watched my then two-year-old cling to that bear, the answer to what I should do hit me like a lightning bolt – I would raise $1 million for St. Jude. I couldn’t bring back the lives of the children who were gone, but I could help to save the life of another as a way of preventing another parent or family from experiencing something no parent should ever experience: the loss of their child.
From that moment on, I and my team have been working with the folks at St. Jude to do fundraising at our events – and at this last Boot Camp, we finally did it. We raised $1 million for St. Jude, sparked by the generosity of Marcus Lemonis and LARGELY due to the amazing community of people we are proud to have as members. I am VERY grateful to all of you who donated over the years. Thank you.
I am also grateful that Jamie rushed to grab that bear, giving me a meaningful mission. My heart still aches for those parents and ANY parent who loses a child.
Back in 2011, my father lost his son, my brother Scott Robins, when a neighbor murdered him in cold blood as he was getting in his van to go to work. The neighbor didn’t like that my brother was building a shed in his own yard, and for that reason alone shot him to death in his driveway. He also shot my niece, Kristin Snow, when she came out of the house to see what was going on, kicking off a series of events that also ended her life.
I still don’t know why things like this happen, and it would be arrogant of me to conjecture as to why God allows it. I simply know such things do happen…and the only thing I know to do is to use my talents and abilities to do good in the world in some small way. Shining a light is the only way to banish darkness.