|9/22/2021 3:15:00 PM|
'Bill's Wish' fundraising 5K coming up October 2
Bill Kowitz’s suicide 15 years ago could have left his sons with cold hearts and disdain for a world that failed their proud Marine father. It did not. If anything, the Kowitz boys, three of whom reside in Chisago County, made the choice to personally heal, and honor their dad, through helping others. There is an October 2 5K run event that family and friends hope will give the larger community the chance to be part of “Bill’s Wish.”
Since their dad’s death in 2006, Travis Kowitz became a lawyer. He represents veterans in a special courtroom in the Tenth Judicial District.
Defendants who have served in the military work with the judge and prosecutors to meet custom probation conditions.
Working with the court Travis learned firsthand from clients of gaps in the VA system and needs that were unaddressed. As founder and President of the Board of a non-profit Bill’s Wish, Kowitz said the goal of the upcoming Bill’s Wish 5K run is to tackle a couple of the roadblocks to success of servicepersons: acquire (a) vehicles for veterans, and cover expenses for treatment for chemical use and mental health.
Another of Bill’s sons, Jordan Kowitz, tells the Press that the dad he remembers was patient and a born leader. Jordan shares a letter his father wrote him that’s been his frequent “compass” of wisdom. There is a sentence that tells the young Jordan, “...deal with your own actions and consequences and don’t lay blame elsewhere.”
Perhaps the most prophetic sample of his father’s wisdom, “I can’t think of anything that’s fair.” he wrote. “Where the skill comes in, is dealing with your own emotions when life isn’t fair. It’s how you deal with these situations that make up what you are made of.”
After the suicide Jordan recalls there was guilt, shame and anger over lack of knowledge. They didn’t have the tools to understand what their father was experiencing.
“Now I find solace in serving others,” Jordan said. “Our goal through Bill’s Wish is to reduce stigma of mental illness, spread awareness and provide resources to those in need. Veterans like Bill Kowitz deserve a full life after service,” Jordan states.
The Minnesota Legislature agrees and in 2019 declared there should be a day for awareness and outreach to veterans and set aside he first Saturday of every October as Veterans Suicide Prevention & Awareness Day.
The date of the Chisago City 5K run, October 2, is also Bill Kowitz’s birthday. To register for the run go to billswish.org or see their Facebook. The event, which begins in downtown Chisago City at 10 a.m. is $50 on the day of the run or $45 prior to.
Those who are inspired to donate at any amount can mail checks made out to Bill’s Wish, P.O. Box 598 Lindstrom, MN 55045.