During an interview at the Providence Coffee Roasters cafe in Riverside in July, 9-time X Games BMX medalist Kevin Robinson, a native of East Providence who now lives in Barrington, discusses his new role as a sideline
commentator for ESPN at this summerâ€™s X Games 17, which took place July 28-31.
EAST PROVIDENCE â€“ Just seconds after he had concluded his after-school presentation regarding anti-bullying and making the right choices at the Weaver Public Library's Champlin Program Room on Wednesday afternoon, Kevin Robinson was inundated with city schoolchildren clamoring for his autograph.
And why not? Robinson is considered a local hero around these parts. Over the past 15 years, the father of three has captured multiple BMX High-Air medals at the X Games, and also acts as President of the K-ROB Foundation.
Call that a non-profit organization that raises money so East Providence kids in need may register for athletic programs, or gain access to sports equipment.
In the past, the foundation has helped fund a youth football team's excursion to Florida for a national championship event, purchased spikes for East Providence High gridders and paid for with registrations to area soccer squads and karate classes.
Robinson, an E.P. native now living in Barrington, pointed out he doesn't charge a fee to speak at such engagements held in his home city, the reason being he wants children to grow up the way he did, and have the same chances.
So adamant is he about such, he revels in talking about two upcoming events his foundation's Board of Directors have created to raise even more funds to aid the community.
One is a children's â€śHalloween Bowling Party,â€ť which will take place at The Bowling Academy, 354 Taunton Ave., on Sunday, Oct. 30 from noon-6 p.m.; and the other a â€śK-ROB Foundation Wine-Tasting Galaâ€ť at Chris Gasbarro's Fine Wine & Spirits, 98 Highland Ave., Seekonk, on Wednesday, Nov. 3 from 6:30-8 p.m.
â€śPeter Rebello, the owner of The Bowling Academy, had told me about a month ago that he wanted to do whatever he could to help the foundation, and I said, 'Absolutely! That's very gracious of you, so thank you,'â€ť Robinson noted after he had signed, perhaps, 50 autographs.
â€śWe weren't really sure what we'd do, but then someone on the board suggested a Halloween bash for kids, and I thought that was a great idea,â€ť he continued. â€śThe idea is for the youngsters to wear their Halloween costumes, and we'll give out trophies to the best boy's and girl's costume. We'll also have some fun bowling.
â€śI don't think word has spread yet; that's why I asked these kids to dress up. We're encouraging people to come for a fun time, which is exactly what our foundation is all about â€“ being a friendly member of the community.â€ť
Anyone interested in registering for the event should do so by calling the academy at (401) 434-5839. Access is free to all children ages 18-and-under, and $10 per adult (though kids under 12 must be accompanied by an adult).
Robinson explained people should sign up for one of several 45-minute sessions, and promised he would roll a frame or two with each youngster and his or her family members.
When asked if he himself would dress up to impress, he offered a sly grin and replied, â€śNo question, but I refuse to reveal. I want to keep it a secret.
â€śI'd love to fill the entire bowling center for all six hours,â€ť he continued. â€śAll people have to do is show up ready to bowl. I'm very, very excited about this; we've never done it before, and this is just one more positive way to bring our community and children together, and to keep supporting the foundation.
â€śThis isn't about money; it's all about spending time with our Townie children. My two oldest kids â€“ Shaye, 7, and Kevin Jr., 5 â€“ will bowl, and I'm going to try to get my wife, Robin, to dress up and bowl, too. My youngest is Riley (14 months), so he's a bit too little to bowl.
â€śMy plan is to bowl with everyone; am I ready for it? I don't know, but I'll probably find out after the first hour or so. Fortunately, I have the ability to bowl with both hands. I had to learn how to use my left hand after I separated my shoulder,â€ť something he's done at least a half-dozen times riding his bike.
As for the wine-tasting event, this will be the second annual fete; last year, the foundation collected over $6,000.
â€śThis time, we will not have an auction because I thought it took away from the wine-tasting and the socializing,â€ť Robinson noted. â€śThat was the whole purpose of it â€“ to bring people together so they could enjoy themselves talking and sipping on a glass of wine. I felt the auction was kind of a distraction.â€ť
The foundation's board has asked â€śCollington,â€ť an acoustic band that plays easy-listening tunes, to perform; it also will conduct a raffle that consists of only one prize, a mammoth gift basket to include some of the wines attendees have sampled and numerous gift certificates to area restaurants and stores.
â€śI'd like to raise more than $6,000 this year, but â€“ without the auction â€“ we know that will be a tough road to hoe,â€ť he said. â€śStill, I care more about it being an enjoyable night for everyone. If we hit the $5,000 mark, I'll be thrilled.â€ť
Robinson will be a busy man over the next few weeks as he has one more celebration to attend. He discovered recently he'll be inducted into the East Providence High School Hall of Fame at a banquet at the Venus de Milo restaurant in Swansea on Oct. 23.
â€śEvidently, my aunt Cathy (Medina) wrote a letter to the Hall of Fame committee, I guess, about a year ago; she talked about my resume and my love for all of my Townie friends,â€ť he explained. â€śShe never told me. Robin knew, my parents knew, but I didn't. They did a great job of keeping it a secret.
â€śI have to admit I was shocked, just blown away,â€ť he added. â€śCathy called me a couple of months ago to tell me, and I couldn't believe it. I'm so happy, so honored, to be recognized. This means a real lot to me.
â€śYou know what, though? I think this helps solidify the message that I'm always trying to get across to people, and that is, 'Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.' My motto is 'Dream your life, live your dream.' It also solidifies the fact the BMX is, in fact, a viable sport, and it deserves to be recognized, as do the people who do it.â€ť
Tickets to the wine-tasting event, for those 21 and over, are $30 per person and $50 per couple. They may be purchased by visiting www.krobfoundation.org., or its Facebook page.