RobFest goal: Suicide prevention

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By Beth Herrinton-Hodge

Many friends across Shelby County and beyond came together last year for the first RobFest.

Community support for the daylong music festival was tremendous, with $30,000 raised from door receipts and donations to support the on-going care of Robbie Phillips.

On Nov. 6, 2008, Phillips, then 14, was found hanging in his grandparents' home after having tried to commit suicide. He was revived after being found with no pulse but received a severe anoxic brain injury.

Phillips is now in good health, but he is confined to a bed or wheel chair and still has a feeding tube. RobFest was created in 2011 by Shelby County Community Charities to help fund Phillips’ trip to Phoenix to undergo autologous adipose stem cell procedures next month at the Stem Cell Rejuvenation Center. The surgery was not fully successful, but Phillips did show some improvement.

RobFest is back this year, and organizers say it is bigger and better, with more live music on two stages and more family-friendly activities, including bounce houses, face painting, games and henna tattoos. There will be food vendors, and both silent and live auctions will be conducted onsite, along with a car cruise.

 “It’s an event for the whole family, a great day to come out to Clear Creek Park, enjoy good music, and the great outdoors,” said Gary Walls, who coordinates the event.

“Last year, we started with a handful of bands who volunteered their time to help Robbie and his family. This year, we have more bands and even more people pulling together to support the event. This year’s RobFest is going to be a great day for the whole family.”

The organizing team behind this year’s event is the Shelby County Adolescent Suicide Awareness Program. This is a newly formed organization with an aim to support teens at a crucial time in their lives, when they are at risk for committing suicide.

The group brings a dual focus of supporting Phillips and his family as he continues to live with the devastating effects of a suicide attempt. The group also holds a mission to raise awareness of bullying and teen suicide.

“Adolescent suicide is a real issue in Shelby County,” Walls said. “We want teens, parents and families to be aware of the problem and to know the warning signs when a teen is in trouble.”

Awareness and support leads to prevention, or at least intervention and help for the teen and the family.

“This is a great event for a family who appreciates every bit of support they receive.”



WHAT:Fundraiser for the family of Robbie Phillips and for adolescent suicide awareness

WHEN:11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday

WHERE:Clear Creek Park, at the amphitheater and Col. Sanders Pavilion

ADMISSION:$10 for adults