'What would your life be like if - you chose a different college, you caught that pass, you married someone else, you ... Friday Harbor High School junior Robby Miller knows the difference one decision can make.
Bob and Lori Miller adopted him from a Russian orphanage 14 years ago. Today the 16-year-old is studying for physics exams and practicing for the state soccer tournament, instead of wearing a Russian military uniform while patrolling the streets in Ukraine.
Robby and his friend Uma Hu, a Friday Harbor High School sophomore, have organized a 4/8 trail walk/run beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, November 9 in order to raise funds to help Russian orphans. Registration at 9:45 a.m. at the Roche Harbor Sculpture Park.
Robby came from an orphanage in Arkhangelsk. He said, "It was really bad, rough and over-crowded. I didn't have my first full meal until I was adopted."
Robby emphasized that the staff at the orphanages aren't to blame for the conditions. They do the best they can under the circumstances.
Like many other children, Robby ended up in the orphanage because his parents were poor and unable to take care of them. It is estimated that there are 700,000 orphans in Russia. Currently adoptions to the U.S.A. are banned, but are allowed to other nations.
Children who aren't adopted by age 13 are put into the military. "At age 16 they are deployed," Robby said.
Two-year-old Robby was underweight and sickly when he was picked up from the orphanage by his new parents. Bob, owner of Humpback Hauling, and Lori, a dentist, began the process of adoption after reading an ad in a newspaper.
Robby's parents and Hu's (Jonathan Hu and Val McClure) plus her sister Ella have all been helping with the project. The Millers donated a I-pad mini as a prize to help encourage pre-registration. The names of everyone who pre-registers will be in the drawing for the prize.
Our parents are a big help," said Robby. "My mother is totally on top of this."
Other help has come from Friends of Russian Orphans (FORO), an organization in Ohio. The proceeds from the Nov. 9 event will be sent there. FORO sends workers to Russia to make necessary repairs to orphanages. The FORO director's adopted son was in the same orphanage at the same time as Robby.
People who don't want to run or walk on Sunday can still help out by donating or purchasing items.
Hu said, "We'll have trinkets for sale at the race." They include postcards of drawings made by some of the orphans. Debit and credit cards are accepted.
For more information or to register online visit the Run for Russian Orphans Facebook page. Pre-registration can be done online through Facebook or in person at San Juan Fitness on Argyle Avenue in Friday Harbor. The suggested registration fee is a $20 donation.
Robby emphasized that this is a trail run and therefore strollers shouldn't be used. The four-mile run/walk and the eight-mile run/walk are on the trails at Roche Harbor.