Sunday, December 5, 2021

10th annual Jacob’s Run this weekend

Chrystal Gasner knows the pain of losing someone to suicide. And like so many others, she is working to raise awareness about and to prevent suicide. 

Now the scholarship coordinator for the Open Arms Suicide Prevention Program in Owatonna, Gasner said she lost her great grandfather and a high school friend to suicide.

“I’ve struggled with mental health issues myself – depression as an adolescent and anxiety as an older adult,” said Gasner.“I want people to know there is help out there.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2016 suicide became the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 10–34 and the fourth leading cause for those 35–54. 

“This is something close to my heart,” said Gasner.

This past year, the Open Arms Suicide Prevention Program awarded 13 scholarships of $500 each to students attending area high schools.

Gasner said money raised by Jacob’s Run funds the scholarships.

Jacob’s Run began after the death by suicide of 15-year-old Jacob Sikel.

Friends of Robert Sikel, Jacob’s dad,  organized the first ride shortly after Jacob’s death  in 2012 and soon after Jacob’s parents and other family members traveled to Colorado and completed the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention training program.

Sikel then organized the local Open Arms Suicide Prevention Program.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Jacob’s Run.

On Saturday, the 50-mile ride will take off from the Owatonna Eagles, making three stops - Shieldsville, Zumbrota and Waltham - along the route before returning to the Eagles.

Check-in begins at 8 a.m., with kickstands up at 10:30 a.m.

More than 200 riders are expected to participate in this year’s event.

To celebrate its anniversary, a 2020 Yamaha V-Star donated by RJ Sport and Cycle in Duluth is being raffled off. Only 200 raffle tickets are being sold for $50 each or five for $200.

For more information on Jacob’s Run, the raffle or to pre-register for Saturday’s ride, visit



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