Jacob’s Run raises funds, helps people remember


Staff Writer

We all look at facts and figures.

Anything can contribute to the fact that there are those who choose to no longer live, but only God knows why.

Though suicide causes incredible sorrow, perhaps guilt and an unsolved mystery, it is not to be taken lightly, nor something of shame.

It just is.

There are those whose family has been affected by it and choose to do what they can to correct whatever it is that possesses the mind in these mysterious ways. Instead of wallowing in sorrow, they do what they can so others won't have to suffer the same fate.

Young Jacob Sikel, who was the son of Angela Howe and Robert Sikel, chose to end his life in 2012 at the age of 15, and the family will always wrestle with the effects of the tragedy.

It is always there, in the back on your mind, but his family is also thinking of others. They’re active in the Open Arms Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention program. They are joined by other family members, friends and just plain folks who want do their part to help others. They want to make sure Jacob did not die in vain; he lives in the hearts and caring of others.

Jacob’s Run is just one way of remembering. It is a motorcycle ride that raises funds for the Open Arms program. Cyclists pay for the privilege of being part of the ride that provides funds to provide presentations for young people, veterans and older people. The event also includes a large number of raffles and drawings.

They reach out to people in crisis and teach people to spot the signs of suicide and get help for their family and friends who need it.

The cyclists who met and took off from the Spare Time Entertainment in Owatonna were the beneficiaries of months of work by numerous volunteers who help prepare for the event. They design T-shirts and serve as traffic guards, along with many other duties during the ride itself.

People who pre-register for the event are presented with bright orange Jacob’s Run T-shirts. It is a fun ride for cyclists and car drivers. It is meaningful because how can you not think of why you are doing it, enjoying the ride but for a purpose?

Weather plays an important part in something like this in regards to attendance, and fortunately some 250 people on 126 bikes and 26 cars turned out for the run, which marked its fourth year.

This year’s cycle ride began at 10:30 and riders traveled the 150-mile route around Southern Minnesota. From Owatonna the riders traveled to Austin, St. Ansger, Iowa, Hayward, Blooming Prairie and back to Owatonna. Most arrived back in Owatonna about 4 and enjoyed a delicious meal which was part of their registration, thanks to the efforts of Jim and Denise Atkinson and Broskoff Structures.

Already the organizers are making plans and working on projects for next year. These volunteers work year-round on this event and are hoping their efforts this year were able to raise enough money to offer six $500 scholarships in Jacob’s honor. The first Jacob’s Run scholarships were awarded last year, as that would have been the year Jacob would have graduated. and they hope they can continue to do the same for years to come. 

The late Donald Christensen, a relative of the Paulsen family who recently suffered a flesh eating disease that destroyed a good share of his body, said it all in poetry:

"Reaching Out”

It's good to feel

you have helped some one.

It is good they know...

you care.

God gives us many opportunities,

to love and care and share.


What better way...

To reach out for Christ.

an example we must be.


Reach out and give a lift,

as small as some lifts may be.


Donald didn't give up. He always thought of others, had faith in God and lived his life extending hope for a better day tomorrow.

Sometimes, when we are depressed and it is time to think, “this too shall pass,” with faith in God’s help, things will be better. 

We can be sorry for the short time Jacob lived, but we can be glad for the time he did.