The story behind Team Jake
Written by: Steven Robert
Team Jake is a group of runners, walkers, fans, and volunteers who help us embrace the OC Marathon event and all that it means to our family. January 8th, 2006 I ran (very liberal use of that term) my first marathon. I ran to honor my son Jake, to raise money in support of United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County, and to “cross something off the list”. The entire Robert/Holman family waited patiently for my finish (just under six hours….poor preparation…ugly execution!!) and we spent the afternoon together celebrating a rather unimpressive finish; but the OC Marathon had given us reason to spend the day together. We did not realize what an amazing gift that was until the next morning when we discovered that our precious son, Jake Ryan Lee Robert, our four and a half year old boy with Cerebral Palsy had passed away in his sleep.
Team Jake was born.
Since then, each year our amazing network of family, friends, and numerous friends and family of friends have joined us. Each year brings new runners, new fans, new memories and an enduring sense that the wonderful spirit of Jake lives on. We always have amazing support at the finish line (including an extremely pro- Team Jake announcer) and we were fortunate to spend some post race time together at The Yard House for the 2nd year last year……so fantastic to see everyone after the race to share war stories and introduce people to the amazingly diverse group that makes up our team. We will definitely plan a similar post-race event this year.
Why do we “Team Jake”?
1) Team Jake intends to support and encourage all of the special needs kids of Orange County and beyond who are striving to take their first step, eat on their own, hold their heads up or those simply fighting for the next milestone in their development; big or small. We appreciate the amazing spirit of these kids, their families, and friends and Team Jake celebrates their journey. While these kids fight to take step one, we run and walk knowing what a privilege each step we take is…..all the way through the finish line.
2) Team Jake desires to honor the memory of our sweet boy, Jake Ryan Lee Robert. Jakey never took a step on his own, never said a word , and never reached some of the most basic developmental milestones we often times take for granted with our children. Jakey opened our hearts and guided us to a perspective of simplicity we fight hard to maintain. He was unimpressed by money and power. He traded only in Love and accepted us without condition. Team Jake strives to bring this spirit to the OC Marathon event each year to keep Jake’s powerful perspective alive and spreading.
3) I “Team Jake” because I have yet to find a way to feel closer to my son….In 2006 after struggling through 26.1 miles, Alison handed me Jakey and he joined me as I finished my first marathon. He was bouncing up and down as I waddled over the line….and the movement made him laugh just a bit. I run my 26.1 miles now because no matter how many times they change the course or the date of the event, when I get near that finish line I can feel Jakey’s weight in my arms, I can recall how soft his air was that day, I can hear his laugh in my ear and I can see his face contorting into his little smile that changed the Robert family forever. For that, I will run anywhere, anytime.