It's Game Day!
Yup! And Robert would have been totally psyched, even though I would imagine that he'd have been thigh high in some new venture - a new job, more schooling, teaching, playing gigs, getting married - who knows. We will never know. But what I do know is that Robert was a fierce fan of the University of Minnesota Marching Band. He was completely dedicated to his "Away from Home Family". His enthusiasm for this artistic sport was nearly unparalleled. He simply loved it!
And today is the first Game Day of this year at TCF Stadium on campus. Spat camp has been going for over a week now and the band is ready. The rookies learned from the veterans and were inspired and pushed near to their limits both mentally and physically. And if any one of them is like Robert (and I'm sure there's plenty who are), they loved it. They breathe marching band and this unique family that many take for granted. Three hundred and fifty students of music (with a shockingly wide array of college majors) will hit the field at halftime and much of the crowd will stand up, and tune out. But the rest of them will wake up and cheer because The Band Is Here! And that is what they really came for - the main event! The practice that goes into each week's performance is daunting, but the end result is worth it and proves to students that they can push themselves to success while at the same time be an integral part of a polished tradition.
As a part of the leadership team, Robert was responsible to help teach his fellow mellophone players ("no, it's not a trumpet") how to excel, but we know too that as a part of the leadership team, Robert learned how to excel. He was really becoming who he was meant to be, learning skills that would serve him well as he tackled the adventures of his future.
But that is also where it ended for Robert. On August 14, 2014 Robert was killed by a distracted driver just days before Spat Camp was to begin. His future is gone. There is no Spat Camp, no graduation, no wedding, no kids, no new job, no future - No Game Day!
We understand that people die every day. We know that this is not unique. There are tragedies around the world taking people's lives. People die and people suffer. Parents, and families, grieve for lost loved ones. We know that, but now we really know and our hearts are broken. We ache for Robert and for ourselves and for everyone that has lost a loved one. There's no qualifying grief - it's all real and it's all painful.
Here's the thing though, and we are asking you to really take this to heart... Robert's death is meaningless unless it changes what you think and what you do. If you're still looking at your phone while you're driving (and I know that many of you still do), if you still pay more attention to the radio than the road, if you think it'll be fun to take a video clip or a selfie in the car, if you still post memes and videos on your Facebook timeline that feature distracted driving (that looks fun or funny), then YOU HAVEN'T CHANGED.
YOU ARE A PART OF THE PROBLEM.
When will it be GAME DAY for all of us? When will it be GAME DAY for you? What will it take to convince you (and the rest of society) that you CANNOT drive and do other things? Research shows that our brains are not programmed to handle that and yet we insist that we are "great multi-taskers". It's not true and we all have to admit it. We have to accept that fact and make a change. It's really no different than accepting that drinking and driving is bad. Distracted driving is bad and again, research shows that it has now surpassed drunk driving in its lethalness.
Unfortunately, in this nation alone, 3700 loved ones die each year as a result of distracted driving (not including those who survive those crashes, but whose futures are now obliterated) - the statistics have not improved since Robert was killed. They've actually gotten worse. That's why we're fighting and that's why we need your help.
On August 14, 2017 we asked all of you to participate in the Annual Ride for Robert. Many of you posted pictures and about 35 people joined us at our home for a post-ride potluck dinner. We are deeply appreciative of your support.
WE ARE ESPECIALLY GRATEFUL TO THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS FOR THEIR DONATIONS TO
THE ROBERT J BRAU FAMILY FOUNDATION:
MARTY JANNING/FAMILY EYE CLINIC
BRIAN AND SHARY VANCE AND FAMILY
TIM AND KATHY VERBRUGGE AND FAMILY
BOB AND CAROL FADER
MARK AND SHARON ERICKSON
These donations will be used to support the activities of the foundation in our efforts to encourage everyone to MAKE TODAY GAME DAY! Make your life count. Make sure that all the practice and all the plans make it all the way to the future. Do it in honor of Robert and for those you love.
JUST DRIVE! IT'S GAME DAY!
Don't wait to support us in insisting that laws change, but even more importantly that people's attitudes change regarding the social acceptability of "driving distracted". Please help us make a change before it's too late for you or someone you love.
At this time donations can be sent to the following address:
The Robert J Brau Family Foundation
c/o Terry and Donna Brau
1684 - 78th Ave NE