Welcome to the
Robert J Brau Family Foundation
Empowering children and families in ways that remind of Robert, whose life left us richer, but whose death at the hands of a distracted driver motivates us to act.
At Robert J Brau Family Foundation, we’re raising funds and promoting initiatives to help those who need it most. With an array of fundraising events and volunteer projects, we welcome you to join our endeavors aimed at making the world a better place. Read on and contact us to learn how you can help.
What We Do
The Robert J Brau Family Foundation, located in heart of Midwest Minnesota, is a charitable foundation dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to helping children and families. We strive work to improve the safety of MInnesota roads and to improve lives of children and families in our area encouraging and supporting lifelong successes. Contact us to see what you can do to bring about positive change.
Annual Ride for Robert
Thursday, August 14, 2020: This is an Annual Event that we host mostly online.
Robert was an active young man who loved to walk, run, hike, bicycle, swim, and kayak and he was never afraid to give of his time to help someone else, sometimes making his own schedule more difficult. He was kind and thoughtful, always aware of others and wanting them to feel included.
Each year we ask people to "move" in ways that remind us all of Robert, or to share a random act of kindness, take a picture, and then post it on our Facebook page "Annual Ride for Robert".
HIs dad and I typically go for a motorcycle "Tour About", going to places he loved - around Green Lake in Spicer and through the park at Robbin's Island in Willmar. You are welcome to join us.
#Just Drive Day Walk
This walk is sponsored by the Greg and Amy LaVallee family in Monticello. Again this year, we supported them in their efforts, thought we are planning to host our "branch" of the event in 2020. We are looking for someone who would be willing to help us organize our #Just Drive Day.
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED, PLEASE CONTACT US ASAP.
Distracted Driving Awareness Day at the Minnesota State Capital
Terry and I were at the Minnesota State Capitol on Thursday February 22, 2019 helping build the momentum supporting a couple of hand-free bills in the Senate.
Ridgewater College Class Presentations
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Thursday, November 21, 2018
All about Robert and the dangers of distracted driving
Tuesday, February 20, 2018:
Robert's mom speaks to a Ridgewater College composition class taught by Jill Benson, about the killing of Robert by a distracted driver. You can read the entire story on the Blog - click here.
Make plans now for Friday, August 14, 2020. Plan a ride, walk, swim, hike, kayak, canoe - whatever way you move. Take a photo and post it in memory of Robert. Or perform a random act of kindness (so "Robert-like") and tell us about it on the page.
The Annual Ride for Robert
One of our main events at the Robert J Brau Family Foundation is the Annual Ride for Robert, an event that encourages everyone to take a walk, hike, bicycle/motorcycle/boat/car ride, or swim in Robert's memory. If it hadn't been for a distracted driver, Robert would still be living his dreams. He was killed instantly when a young woman crashed her car directly into him as he traveled towards home on his motorcycle and our Foundation pledge is to make people more aware of how dangerous it is to drive while trying to do things that disrupt driving focus. Until this trend changes, we will spend a significant portion of our resources tackling this problem. See how you can help by reading more or contacting one of our representatives.
Robert J Brau Scholarship
Honors a Willmar Senior High School Student
Every spring a scholarship is awarded to a Willmar Senior High School music student who most reminds us of Robert and his musical gifts.
Robert loved to be busy and he loved spending time with friends and family, especially when that time included anything musical - listening, playing or recording. His musical pursuits included piano, cello, trumpet, French horn, acoustic and electric guitar and bass, and he had a beautiful bass singing voice. He was a 2011 High Honors Graduate of Willmar Senior High School and while there participated in every musical group available to him, including all of the band and choir ensembles and small groups, the orchestra, musicals pit orchestras, and Pep and Jazz bands.
2015: Austin Grove - Tenor Sax, Cello
2016: Erika Ellingson - Percussion, Piano, Voice
2017: Brady Newcomer - Alto Sax, Voice
2018: MaKenna Hogan - Trumpet, French Horn, Voice
2019: Jeremy Pierskalla - French, Horn, Cello, and Voice
Robert J Brau Memorial Scholarship
Honors a University of Minnesota Music Student
After high school graduation, Robert was accepted at the University of Minnesota and began studies in science and music. He was exuberant and honored to be selected as a member of the University of Minnesota Marching Band in 2011 and became part of the leadership team for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He often referred to the Marching Band as his “Away from Home Family”. As a college sophomore, he decided to focus on his passion which was music and he was accepted into the University’s School of Music and officially declared his major in Classical Guitar Performance. His plan was to earn his PhD, to become a college professor and to both teach and perform on guitar. His dreams had really just begun.
2014: Claire Volna - Mellophone
2015: Todd Peterson - Tuba
2016: Paul Benson - Mellophone, Connor Jensen - Trumpet
2017: Justin J. Roth - Trombone
2018: Gabriel Dreisbach - Quints (Percussion)
One of the main reasons the Robert J Brau Family Foundation was founded in 2017 is to change society's attitudes and behaviors with regard to distracted driving and to assist the families and children in our area in ways that honor Robert.
Make plans now to join us in the last week of April 2020 for our #JustDrive walk - one of three in the state. Check back here for details or contact us today if you'd like to either sponsor this event or volunteer.
We donated to the Willmar Destination playground and got together a small group to volunteer in building. We wore Robert's favorite colors that day.
The organized ride centers around some of Robert's favorite places - Games Lake, Sibley State Park, and Green Lake. All of these places were places he loved to go for swimming, hiking and sailing.
Don’t miss out on any Robert J Brau Family Foundation news or updates. Check our website often or sign up for email updates.
“I would like to be well liked more
than well known. I want to be able to look back and have no
Get To Know Us
The Robert J Brau Family Foundation has just begun working hard to promote our causes and while there is always more that can be done to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to support children and familes in this areas in ways that remind us of Robert, this is a great start.
Who Was Robert?
The following is from Robert's memorial portfolio, written by his parents:
Robert was the only son of Terry and Donna Brau. He was born on the Thursday before Easter
Sunday, April 8th, 1993. It is easy to believe that there were few births ever more joyfully
received by family and friends. We all understood the magnitude of his unexpected development and birth. From the moment he arrived, we knew that this baby would change everything! We laughed, we cried and wondered so much every day! We showered him with love and affection and eventually learned to channel that love through routines, limitations, and guidance. Robert was our
“daily fix” of wonder and joy. He was, and always will be, our miracle baby. It has been immensely joyful in every way to be a part of watching Robert grow. He is just the son we always dreamed of - in every way.
Looking at him always showed that he was a young man with so much to share. He was gifted and talented in so many ways, some of which we all knew, some that were yet to bloom. Our love for him was and still is completely unconditional and undeniable. No matter what he did, where he traveled, or how his spirit now surrounds us, we will always be grateful to him, and indebted to him, for helping us know the truest and purest
depths of love.
From Robert’s Senior Portfolio:
“I don’t really think you know me until you hear at least a little about my birth. I think the circumstances around
my coming into the world are significant enough to make an important impact on who I am and how my family works. My parents had been married for fifteen years and had been told they would never have a biological child…Funny how life has a way of changing the best-laid plans isn’t it? So with the news spread to family and friends and career plans put
on hold, a new chapter in their lives began. My room was ready and all the necessary supplies were bought. There were baby showers and joyful showers of tears shed. And so, on my birthday my parents’ tiny family of two became a little family of three and, I think, “It is just the family I wanted.”
From his first days, Robert found joy in so many things. He was inquisitive and bright and ready for exploration, excited, soothed and intrigued by music, always happy, always busy, and always hungry. He found his way into the hearts of all who met him quickly and firmly. Robert loved to be busy (“but not too busy”) and he loved spending time with friends and family. It was clear that he loved talking, laughing, making movies, playing games, and eating! He genuinely seemed to enjoy hanging out with Mom and Dad, especially when
that time included anything musical - listening, playing or recording. Special family times included: sailing, biking, hiking, gardening, ponding, movies, vacations (especially those involving water, particularly times spent in Bayfield, WI), and the sharing of many special holiday traditions.
Robert said that what he liked most about himself was his resilient character - his ability to stand true to his morals and values, to make decisions both large and small and form opinions that spoke to his own
solid strengths and beliefs. He was open-minded yet steadfast in his decisions. He believed wholly that his mistakes would be his own and that his learning and success would be a direct result of his own choices. He saw himself, and we agree, as steadfast, confident, and positive. He drew inspiration from his friend Troy (“Blessed be his memory”) and wanted to be like him. Robert was busy in so many activities throughout his time in the Willmar Schools, the majority of courses having to do with music (the list is so broad and so extensive) and swimming. He loved spending time with
family and friends, appreciated freetime that came after overly busy times. He was always willing to help out in any way: rock picking, gardening, running errands, mowing lawns, helping family and friends with projects of every description, and often helped out to the extent
that he made his own schedule more d!ifficult. Special times were often centered on practicing or playing his instruments (piano, cello, trumpet, french horn, mellophone, and his love: guitar). That love carried from his involvement in every music opportunity in the Willmar High School and his willingness to help out musically at church to his fierce love of and dedication to the University of Minnesota Marching Band
We are grateful for the love he found with Abby. She is an amazing young woman who brought out the best in
our son. We welcome her into our lives and thank her - there’s joy there that will never fade.
We will all always seek an explanation - answers to what has happened. It is human to want to know the reason and the why. Our hearts are broken and
and there’s an emptiness where he was that will never be filled - not with “keeping busy”, not with “finding something meaningful to fill our own days left on earth” and, right now, it feels like no amount of prayer will heal our
hurt. Our thanks to you for lifting our sorrow. We are so very grateful for faith, family and
Changing social behaviors begins with learning the "why". Why is it important that people turn off phones while driving? Why do we need to keep our eyes and minds on driving? What do the statistics show us about this growing problem? Click the image to the right to link to multiple websites and information about distracted driving.
Please get involved by attending the Just Drive Day walks in your area or by registering your "Ride" in the Annual Ride for Robert. Contribute to our foundation so that we can continue this important work. Contact your representatives and ask them to help us change this horrifying social trend - attitudes have to change. People have to understand just how dangerous this behavior is and how devastating the resulting crashes are. Eleven people die EVERY DAY as a result of distracted driving - research shows that it is now more dangerous than drinking and driving! Help us change this trend.
Show your Support and
Change your Behavior
We hope that, first and foremost, you'll support our cause and our charitable endeavors. We can make a difference with your help. And while you do that, we hope that you'll change your own behavior - that you'll commit to drive without distractions - put away and turn off your phone, put on your makeup at home, read at your leisure not in a traffic jam - stay aware of your surroundings - pay attention while you drive!