Announcements Blog

News, events, and musing from The SPIRIT Foundation.
Look out for newss - with the details about the 
semi-formal celebrations, SPIRIT scholarship, music, concerts, races, etc. and all our announcements.

If you are on Facebook visit the Rest in Peace, Robert Group. 
Here's a Wordle of Top words from FB/RIP Robert, through July 2011.

Recent Blog Snippets

  • Two Scholarship Opportunities in 2014 I'm happy to announce the 4th Annual SPIRIT Scholarship, a $5000 scholarship for a deserving student in the Wootton Class of 2014! Opportunity is a door, you open and ...
    Posted Feb 10, 2014, 4:35 AM by Remember Robert Yin
  • 2013 SPIRIT: Who are James Liu and Harrison Blackman? As I write this it is 2014. The Class of 2013 have long since moved on to their college lives. Their exciting new journeys - encompassing personal, academic, athletic, and artistic ...
    Posted Feb 24, 2014, 11:52 AM by Remember Robert Yin
  • Books for Africa It gave me great pleasure to send 40 lbs. or about 2 dozen books to Namibia for school children. The last time I saw Robert, he said he wanted to ...
    Posted Apr 4, 2013, 4:55 AM by Remember Robert
  • SPIRIT gives meaning to 12/12/12 SPIRIT gives meaning to 12/12/12 December 12, 2012  Rockville, Maryland  The family of Robert Yin and the SPIRIT Foundation are pleased to announce the start of the 3rd ...
    Posted Dec 28, 2012, 7:00 AM by Remember Robert Yin
  • Wootton Track Leads the Way Spring 2012 - This is the article about the Wootton Track Banquet, and the Donate Life Race from May and June 2012... Coming Soon! (Sorry it's late!)
    Posted Dec 12, 2012, 3:36 AM by Remember Robert Yin
  • 2012 May 18 - 2nd Annual Sports Legacy Institute Fundraiser SLI founder and CEO Chris Nowinski with donor families   May 18, 2012   Washington, DC  The Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) held its 2nd Annual Tom McHale Memorial Fundraiser, in memory of ...
    Posted May 23, 2012, 4:37 PM by Remember Robert
  • 2012 SPIRIT Scholar Winner  May 18, 2012 Rockville, Maryland  Congratulations to Isabella Mia Lee, the 2012 SPIRIT Scholar Winner!  On Friday, May 18, 2012, in the middle of the school day, the SPIRIT Foundation ...
    Posted May 22, 2012, 4:36 AM by Remember Robert Yin
  • 2012 May 4 - Foundation donates pole vault helmets to Wootton Track   May 4, 2012   Rockville, Maryland   On May 4, 2012, the Robert Yin SPIRIT Foundation donated five pole vault helmets to Wootton High School Athletics for the use by WHS pole ...
    Posted May 22, 2012, 4:33 AM by Remember Robert Yin
  • 2012 June 10 - The 5K Race to Donate Life Click here to register for the 3rd annual Race to Donate Life 5K! If you run with us, PLEASE REGISTER AS A PART OF "WOOTTON TEAM ROBERT"! Will Quakenbush, Wootton ...
    Posted May 22, 2012, 4:32 AM by Remember Robert Yin
  • Singer-Songwriter Evan Polisar Evan Polisar From Burtonsville, Maryland, you can see Evan performing in the Washington DC area.Evan wrote the song quoted in the writing questions for the 2012 SPIRIT Scholarship. The ...
    Posted Dec 15, 2011, 10:41 AM by Remember Robert
Showing posts 1 - 10 of 26. View more »

Two Scholarship Opportunities in 2014

posted Feb 9, 2014, 2:10 PM by Sandy G   [ updated Feb 10, 2014, 4:35 AM by Remember Robert Yin ]

I'm happy to announce the 4th Annual SPIRIT Scholarship, a $5000 scholarship for a deserving student in the Wootton Class of 2014!

Opportunity is a door, you open and go thru, to get somewhere else.

Same as in past years, the scholarship is open to any interested Wootton senior. We are in search of a special youth with spirit. That is, someone whose SPIRIT will, "Show Potential, Integrity, Responsibility, and Inspire Thousands!"

Interested applicants will submit an inspirational speech or story. The SPIRIT Scholar winner will make a video about his or her idea. Applications are open NOW through April 6, 2014. For more information about the scholarship visit the 2013-2014 Scholarship webpage at the Remember Robert website

The scholarship is given in memory of Robert, sponsored by Robert's family and a generous anonymous donor. A big thank you goes out to Wootton High School - for the wonderful students they educate and nurture, and to the WHS teachers who helped to nominate and judge the applicants.

In previous years I strived to kickoff the SPIRIT Scholarship announcement on December 12, the birthday of the late Robert Yin. Although I'm late to announce the SPIRIT Scholarship this year, the Scholarship program is unchanged.

To donate your time, effort or money to the Robert Yin SPIRIT Foundation, or for general questions, contact spirit@rememberRobert.org or call 301-448-9516.

- Sandy Giger, February 9, 2014
And there's another Scholarship I want to make you aware of...
And I highly recommend, you go for it!

This scholarship is NOT associated with the Robert Yin SPIRIT Foundation, Inc., but it is a wonderful opportunity for our DC region: 

  • Prizes: $5,000 First Place Scholarship; $3,000 Second Place Scholarship; and Six $1,000 Honorable Mentions!
  • Deadline: 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 31, 2014
  • Theme“Organ & Tissue Donation: Persuade Someone to Give the Gift of a Lifetime.” Write a 1,000 word persuasive argument on the topic, fiction or non fiction, with sources cited.
  • SponsorWashington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC), the D.C. metropolitan area’s organ recovery agency.
  • REMEMBER!
  • You will be disqualified if there are no citations, if there are more than 1,000 words or your submission is late! Read the RULES!

Here are my two cents (adjusted for inflation) about the Legacy of Life Scholarship: 

This is an excellent chance to use your power of persuasion to argue passionately for a good cause, which is organ & tissue donation. And the generous prizes are highly worth trying for. Why not try? 

Some people might avoid or not know how to express themselves with regard to organ donation. Maybe I can help? If anyone is interested, I will make myself available to let you ask all the questions you have or are afraid to ask about organ donation (because Robert was an organ donor). Email me and we'll talk. 

One last word, I saw some great passionate essays from WHS kids in the past years. Though, I was shown these after they submitted them (and it was too late to change)... I suspect one or two may have been disqualified for not providing citations (i.e. references). That's a preventable error, so follow the RULES!

2013 SPIRIT: Who are James Liu and Harrison Blackman?

posted Feb 9, 2014, 9:34 AM by Sandy G   [ updated Feb 24, 2014, 11:52 AM by Remember Robert Yin ]

As I write this it is 2014. The Class of 2013 have long since moved on to their college lives. Their exciting new journeys - encompassing personal, academic, athletic, and artistic growth - never disappoint. Students and parents keep me informed how Wootton grads are doing. Just hearing the name "Wootton" causes a swell of pride and joy to rise in my chest. Wootton kids represent the best of Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland, and the nation!

You can read a little more about the Class of 2013 SPIRIT Scholar finalists, on this page, which includes James and Harrison's YouTube videos.

I regret Robert is not among his Class of 2008 mates, and friends across other years, to try his dreams... Hence my delay to keep the website up to date, and I apologize for that. Sometimes I just need a little down time... 

Wootton kids are the greatest. I am privileged to get a glimpse of their vibrant personalities, hard work, and keen intellect. I am very grateful these nice kids and their families share that with me. 

SPIRIT stands for "Show potential, integrity, responsibility, and inspire thousands!" And now the 2014 SPIRIT Scholarship is underway for its 4th year...

- Sandra Giger, February 8, 2014
James Chengyu Liu - 
I imagine James wondered if I disappeared, because in 2013 I was late to market his well-deserved victory lap as the 2013 SPIRIT Scholar. If this were a test, James aced it like all the rest. James Liu is a gentleman and family man who acts with clarity and a positive aura. 

James just wrote to inform me what he is doing now at Dartmouth College, "I have decided on a double major economics and computer science and a minor in mathematical finance. I decided to cut down the math major to fit in a study abroad program to London and Denmark, three internship programs and some interesting courses in geography, psychology and speech. I will also be taking a wide range of PE options: Ballroom Dancing, Wilderness Survival, Skiing, Ice Fishing, Ice Climbing, Snowboarding and Golf. I am also training to hopefully walk on the Varsity Cross Country and Track teams my Sophomore year! So that is my plan in a glimpse!" 

Good luck James!
Harrison Blackman - 
Harrison had an idea about a video to match his writing component. He contacted me and asked if he could submit a video anyway. My answer was, "Of course!" Thank you.

Harrison demonstrates initiative and confidence, which will serve him quite well in the future. He is at Princeton, considering a future major in architecture and public policy.

Harrison's video made us THINK and RE-EXAMINE our life style choices for home and community, juxtaposed with urban planning design and our transportation needs. Do we ever walk, or do we drive to everywhere? What do people without cars do?

The idea for the SPIRIT videos is to use the global reach of YouTube to touch another life with SPIRIT. We want to show how SPIRIT can reach beyond WHS borders. But in 2013 we changed the rules to let the video be optional, at the time of application to SPIRIT Scholar. We were told kids were not applying because they didn't want to do a video... So it is now only a requirement for the winning Scholar.

Harrison was the one and only applicant to submit a video with the 2013 SPIRIT Scholar application. This helps narrow competition for a $100 cash award. His video is well done, and absolutely deserves an award!  

Books for Africa

posted Jan 14, 2013, 6:41 AM by Sandy G   [ updated Apr 4, 2013, 4:55 AM by Remember Robert ]

It gave me great pleasure to send 40 lbs. or about 2 dozen books to Namibia for school children.

The last time I saw Robert, he said he wanted to work in Africa for the Peace Corps after graduation. His friend is there now, in Namibia, teaching math and science to middle- and high-school kids. Robert didn't go to Africa, but his books did.

You too can send BOOKS FOR AFRICA. Try it! Give directly to help boys and girls in Namibia get an education. There's no 3rd party charitable agency overhead. Send books or materials such as crayons, compasses, rulers, pencils and pens to:

Sachi Graber
Peace Corps Volunteer, St. Therese JSS
Private bag 2062
Keetmanshoop
Namibia

I have more [children's] books than I know what to do with. Recently, looking through some of the books at home, I found Robert and Alex's Landon School text books, by Glencoe, "Science Interactions" for the years: Course 2, 3, and 4. They had Robert and Alex's signatures inside the cover along with some of their teenage doodling. That was the start of my pile of "BOOKS FOR AFRICA". 

What else got squeezed in the boxes along with the Glencoe Science books?
The project was a bit of a brainteaser. What's the best selection of books, totaling no more than 20 lbs., to fit in which size of United States Postal Service flat rate box? The "USPS Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box", with the size 12" x 12" x 5.5", was the optimum size box for 20 lbs. of books. The box alone weighed 10 ounces. Packed full and taped shut, each box weighed just under 20 lbs. Twenty pounds is the maximum weight, using a standard USPS flat rate box, to ship to Namibia. The cost of mailing a box at the USPS flat rate to Namibia is $60.95, totaling of $121.90 to send the two boxes.

Most of the books that I sent were hard cover books. If you send more paperbacks, those might weigh less and you might use the other larger size USPS flat rate box, which is 23-11/16" x 11-3/4" x 3".

Is $122 a lot of money? Well, yes it is, thank you. But let's compare the value:
  • Of course, you can use your own random size box and weight of books, but if you don't use the USPS flat rate boxes, 40 lbs of shipping to Namibia from Washington, DC costs a little less than $300! 
  • If you subscribe to telecom packages, such as either Comcast cable TV with broadband internet, or a Verizon Family Plan for cell phones not including data, the cost is comparable to one month. 
  • Or two tanks of gasoline for the car. 
  • Or a month or more of Starbucks for the high-flyers. 
  • If purchased new, the text books cost between $120-$175 each. The value of these books is up to $1000 today. Maybe within 10 years, these expensive books will only be e-books, but Africa doesn't have reliable and ubiquitous internet like the rest of us. 
What do we do with our old books? Surely our country is already blessed with more than we need or can use. I sent only a small fraction of our library. I hope they arrive (should be in 6-10 days). I hope the books will aid in learning, capture imagination, and bring happiness.

I wish to mention that Isabella Mia Lee, the winner of the 2012 SPIRIT Scholarship, won the scholarship based on her story about providing used books to economically disadvantaged children in our local area. I thank Mia, because her infectious initiative was also an inspiration for BOOKS FOR AFRICA.

- Sandy Giger, January 14, 2013

Update - April 2, 2013 - from Sachi, "... the learners here are thrilled to have new books, and they are reading those books every day in my classroom! It is really great to see them poring over books and absorbing and learning new information whether they want to or not =) ... We have a few voracious readers here, who are very happy to see some new titles!"

SPIRIT gives meaning to 12/12/12

posted Dec 12, 2012, 4:30 AM by Remember Robert Yin   [ updated Dec 28, 2012, 7:00 AM ]

SPIRIT gives meaning to 12/12/12
 December 12, 2012
 Rockville, Maryland 

The family of Robert Yin and the SPIRIT Foundation are pleased to announce the start of the 3rd Annual 2012-2013 SPIRIT Scholarship, coinciding with the 23nd birthday today of Robert Yin. The SPIRIT Scholarship is an award to a college-bound senior from Thomas Spriggs Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland. By the end of the 2011-2012 school year, one individual from the Class of 2012 will win the award of $5000. There may be additional $100 awards for outstanding video ideas. * There also will be one runner-up award at an amount to be determined.

12/12/12 is an auspicious, "carpe diem" kind of day. It's a once in a millennium opportunity to ponder what life intends. To the extent we can ascribe meaning and cosmic intentions to 12/12/12, along with Robert's birthday, then let today remind us to live with "spirit". For the SPIRIT Scholarship, we are looking for youth whose SPIRIT will "Show Potential, Integrity, Responsibility, and Inspire Thousands!"

Applicants submit an application, which describes your school and extracurricular life, and includes a speech. The rules for 2012-2013 have changed. Unlike the first two years, you no longer need to submit a YouTube video with the application. However, the 1st place winner is expected to produce a video for YouTube based on your speech by June 30, as a condition in order to receive the award. Acting on good advice from the staff at Wootton High, we changed application process as a means to best search for the who most deserves the SPIRIT scholarship.

Applications will be accepted on a 1st come 1st serve basis to the first 50 applicants between February 1 through April 1. The annual SPIRIT Scholarship reward young people for good behavior, talent, and involvement in school and community. The first scholarship was awarded in 2011, to WHS grad Jeff Hilnbrand; and in 2012 to Isabella Mia Lee. We encourage everyone to apply.

* Update 12/28/12 - The Foundation decided to simplify and eliminate the extra video awards of $100, while adding a runner-up award.

Tell us how you do it!

You can Win the 2013 SPIRIT Scholarship.
Write an essay first, do a video later...

Robert Yin said, "I will create a better life for myself and others." Craft a speech and story about your idea or work to make a better life.




Happy Birthday Robert!
Everyone remembers you, loves you, and misses you!

Wootton Track Leads the Way

posted Dec 12, 2012, 3:36 AM by Remember Robert Yin

Spring 2012 - This is the article about the Wootton Track Banquet, and the Donate Life Race from May and June 2012... Coming Soon! (Sorry it's late!)

2012 May 18 - 2nd Annual Sports Legacy Institute Fundraiser

posted May 21, 2012, 5:37 PM by Remember Robert Yin   [ updated May 23, 2012, 4:37 PM by Remember Robert ]

SLI founder and CEO Chris Nowinski with donor families

SLI founder and CEO Chris Nowinski with donor families
  May 18, 2012
  Washington, DC 

The Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) held its 2nd Annual Tom McHale Memorial Fundraiser, in memory of Tom McHale. Several of us who earlier in the day hosted the 2nd Annual SPIRIT Scholarship Awards Celebration, decided the coincidental same-day timing of both SPIRIT Scholarship and SLI events was enough to signal that [Robert would want] SPIRIT should support SLI. So we hopped on the Metro for the ride from Rockville to DC. The cocktail hour event was in the lower atrium of Washington Center, at 1050 Connecticut Ave. NW in DC. 

The event was held to raise money for teaching educational awareness and conducting research on concussion injury and prevention. Tom McHale was a former NFL and Montgomery County Public Schools Watkins Mill High School football player, who following his tragic death of a drug overdose at age 45. Following his death, McHale was diagnosed with post concussion syndrome and chronic traumatic encephylopathy (CTE) due to repeated head trauma throughout his football career.

Like so many other football players and athletes in sports with exposure to head impact (soccer, boxing, wrestling, baseball, and pole vaulting, etc.) the brain is at risk for injury. SLI has a collaborative partnership with Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE). Sports Legacy Institute's CEO is charismatic Chris Nowinski, author of Head Games and himself suffering from post concussion syndrome. Chris will reach out to families following the tragic death of a someone with a history of concussions or exposure to head trauma from contact sports. He will gently ask newly grieving families to donate their loved ones' brains to CSTE for research. CSTE will analyze donated brain tissue and topology for evidence of brain degeneration and CTE. 

An estimated 200 people listened to Chris Nowinski explain the history and current efforts of SLI and the CSTE, including a video about the many affected players, from childhood through high school, college, and a pro NFL career. Dr. Ann McKee, MD, professor of neurology and pathology at BUSM and director of VA CSTE Brain Bank, spoke about the physiology of CTE. Lisa McHale (widow of Tom) spoke about the life of Tom and her sons. 

We personally were able to introduce ourselves to several "Legacy Donors", people who donated their deceased family member's brain to CSTE for research. Ollie Matson, Jr., chatted with us about sports safety and his dad, Ollie Sr., who after his death in 2011 was diagnosed with CTE. We met the concerned parents of Austin Trenum, a 17-yr. old from Manassas/Brentsville, VA, who committed suicide two days after a football game concussion in 2010. And the smart and articulate Lisa, Tom's widow.

Bruce Laird, President of
Fourth & Goal, and former Baltimore Colts 1972-1981, and San Diego Chargers 1982-1983 blogged about the event. Laird quotes Lisa McHale's speech, "How could a life of such promise end so tragically?"  Yes, how true, how sad. The SLI and the CSTE are working to fix this. They are working to get the attention of the media, NFL, players, and families. 

On the left, watch the trailer to the upcoming film documentary version of "Head Games, The Film".  This film premieres on June 6, 2012 in Boston, and June 7 in Philadelphia.

For more information about the concussion crisis among athletes: below I attached an article by bleacherreport.com, "Junior Seau's Suicide Underscores Importance of Focusing on Player Safety"; and, these two videos are highly recommended: 

2012 SPIRIT Scholar Winner

posted May 21, 2012, 3:59 PM by Remember Robert Yin   [ updated May 22, 2012, 4:36 AM ]

Isabella Mia Lee, 2012 SPIRIT Scholar
 May 18, 2012
 Rockville, Maryland 

Congratulations to Isabella Mia Lee, the 2012 SPIRIT Scholar Winner!  On Friday, May 18, 2012, in the middle of the school day, the SPIRIT Foundation announced this years SPIRIT Scholarship winner at the Wootton High School awards assemblies. Awards of $100 and a knapsack were given to both James Ertel and Evan Rindler. Other applicants were awarded sporting gear and casual wear "swag" in grateful thanks for a job well done. 

This year's outstanding applicants showed us their penchant for initiative and aspiration with their high-SPIRITed style of good character, and well-rounded academic and extracurricular talents. 

The applicants, families, Wootton staff, and friends were hosted to a luncheon reception in their honor, which featured speakers and entertainment including 2011 SPIRIT Scholar Jeff Hilnbrand, guitarist and musician Henry Nam, and Keynote Speaker Scott Franko from Elkhart, Indiana. More...

2012 May 4 - Foundation donates pole vault helmets to Wootton Track

posted May 21, 2012, 3:49 PM by Remember Robert Yin   [ updated May 22, 2012, 4:33 AM ]

Pole Vault helmet
  May 4, 2012
  Rockville, Maryland  

On May 4, 2012, the Robert Yin SPIRIT Foundation donated five pole vault helmets to Wootton High School Athletics for the use by WHS pole vaulters. As of Spring 2012, WHS Track and Field has five new pole vaulters, who participate in pole vault
with Montgomery County Public Schools, practicing based out of Quince Orchard High School. 

Coach Kellie Redmond has decided to make wearing helmets mandatory for its pole vaulters. Says Coach Redmond, “The Wootton community is very in tune to the possibility that someone could get seriously hurt and are thinking, 'why risk it?'.”

One Wootton pole vaulter qualified for the State championships, and will be wearing a helmet for that event. Go Wootton!

2012 June 10 - The 5K Race to Donate Life

posted May 21, 2012, 3:44 PM by Remember Robert Yin   [ updated May 22, 2012, 4:32 AM ]

Click here to register for the 3rd annual Race to Donate Life 5K! If you run with us, PLEASE REGISTER AS A PART OF "WOOTTON TEAM ROBERT"! Will Quakenbush, Wootton High School student, is organizing this run for Wootton's Team Robert as a personal project. As of this writing we estimate over 60 participants for Team Robert. We created a Facebook Event to organize this 5K using the "Rest in Peace, Robert" group. We hope to see you there!

Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC) announces its 3rd Annual 5K Race to Donate Life to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation, and to encourage individuals to register as donors. This family-friendly event will take place at 9:00am on Sunday, June, 10, 2012, at the River’s edge of 314 Mill Street, Historic Occoquan, Virginia 22192, just 11 miles south of the Capital Beltway. The competitive, timed 5K Run/Walk, using the ChronoTrack race timing system and the disposable B-tag (bib tag), will feature a scenic USATF certified course, food, music, children’s activities, great prizes and team challenge.

Why a race to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation?
Currently, there are more than 114,000 individuals on the national transplant waiting list, desperately awaiting a life-saving organ. Every day 18 people die because there aren't enough organs available. This race seeks to bring awareness to the fact that YOU have the power to help save lives. Simply register as an organ, eye and tissue donor whenever obtaining or renewing your driver's license or do it online today by clicking here!

There's another side to this coin: It's wonderful to see how organ and tissue donation saves the lives of people with illness and need. However we first and foremost advocate for you to take safety precautions and manage safety risks, so that you might enjoy a long and healthy life!

Singer-Songwriter Evan Polisar

posted Dec 13, 2011, 4:54 PM by Remember Robert   [ updated Dec 15, 2011, 10:41 AM ]


Evan Polisar
 From Burtonsville, Maryland, you can see Evan performing in the Washington DC area.
Evan Polisar

Evan wrote the song quoted in the writing questions for the 2012 SPIRIT Scholarship. The quote is from the chorus, and the full lyrics are:

Every day's a memory
and some aren't always good
but even in the worst of times
do what you know you should
There are people born to follow
and people born to lead
as long as you can stand up proud
There's no way you can't succeed.

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