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Ron Rabinovitz speaks at WHS for 'Legends and Heroes' event

The Park High School Wolf Riders step team performed during the "Legends & Heroes: Jackie Robinson" event at Woodbury High School on March 18.1 / 3
Ron Rabinovitz first met Jackie Robinson when he was 7 years old. Their relationship eventually grew to a close friendship of letter writing and meetings.2 / 3
Ron Rabinovitz, who had a 29-year relationship with Jackie Robinson, spoke during the "Legends & Heroes: Jackie Robinson" event at Woodbury High School on March 18.3 / 3

Growing up, Edina resident Ron Rabinovitz idolized Major League Baseball great Jackie Robinson.

It was thanks to Rabinovitz's father that he was able to meet his idol when he came to his hometown of Wisconsin when the Brooklyn Dodgers took on the Milwaukee Braves.

Rabinovitz was just 7 years old.

That chance meeting between Rabinovitz and Robinson was the beginning of a friendship that spanned nearly 29 years.

"That began our relationship of long letters, lunches and dinners," Rabinovitz said. "Someone once told me 'Your story is one that only happens in dreams' - and it's true."

Rabinovitz shared the story of his relationship with Robinson at Woodbury High School on March 18 during "Legends & Heroes: Jackie Robinson."

The event was sponsored by District 833 Community Education and the Office of Educational Equity and Integration.

"What started out as a presentation that would be informational, inspirational and maybe historical has morphed into something larger than life - just like Jackie himself," said Gretchen Carlson, of Community Education.

In addition to Rabinovitz's presentation, students from Woodbury, East Ridge and Park high schools shared stories of who their heroes are.

"We thought it would be great to get students thinking about what is a true hero," Carlson said. "Not who is a super hero. To have someone who has lived their life and had a connection with a person like Jackie Robinson, it just elevates our thinking - I hope it inspires everyone to look at their own life."

Carlson said Community Education wanted to organize an event with a guest speaker after the success of a similar program last year with Holocaust survivor Anita Dittman.

Carlson sent out e-mails to district staff asking if they knew of any speakers that would be appropriate for a district event.

As it happened, a parent of an East Ridge students, who works for a speakers' organization, suggested Rabinovitz.

"At first, we weren't sure people would find his story interesting," Carlson said. "But, when we met him we found his story so engaging - his story was so much bigger than we had anticipated."

An inspirational story

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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