Champion of the people Will Robinson, chef at Patties and Pints and life-long Portsmouth resident, has always lived his life as a beacon of love. Now, as he carries the burden of watching his son battle a fatal disease, Robinson shows that love and happiness are possible even in the hardest of times.
Love is all Robinson has known in life, something he credits to his mom Barbara Robinson. Will says his mother, who spent her life taking care of her children and teaching head start for Community Action, always showed love for everyone, especially her children.
“I can remember, for instance, when she was taking me to kindergarten,” he began. “I don’t know why I remember, but she had on a poncho. She was running me up the hill. She was that determined. It was pouring down rain. We didn’t have a car at the time, and she wanted to make sure we got there. I remember it very vividly. And, I remember her trying to make sure I stayed dry. I know how treacherous that hill was.”
Because of his mother, Will and his siblings never knew how ugly the world could be. They were taught that the world was a beautiful place.
“I remember feeling safe every night,” Robinson said. “I remember her making sure we felt safe. I remember her always practicing what she preached. I never saw her take a drink. I never saw her take a drug. Growing up, I didn’t know. We didn’t know. So, job well done, Momma.”
Will says he has always carried this passion for people with him throughout his life.
“I’ve never lost a friend,” he explained. “And, if I did, I always got them back because life is too short.”
Will is the kind of guy that will come into work in the evening when it isn’t his shift to grab a bite to eat, see his help is needed and soon be by the side of his co-workers busting out burgers. He helps in anyway he can from at home with his family, on the streets where his smiling face brightens days or at Patties and Pints where the employees and guests feel his warmth in the environment.
Will is no stranger to how cruel life can be. He sees it every time he looks at his son, but he is also encouraged by the young boy.
“I have a son with muscular dystrophy, a deadly form,” Will stated as tears filled his eyes. “There’s no time to be upset, no time.”
Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease that causes progressive weakening and loss of muscle mass. Will’s son, Brilyn was diagnosed when he was only three-years-old. Will’s girlfriend at the time took care of her cousin, who also had the disease and is one of the oldest people with muscular dystrophy still living. She noticed indicators of the disease in how Brilyn walked.
“He’s special. He’s a light,” Will said about his son. “Everybody loves him. I love him with all my heart, as I do with all my children, but with him, I’m his champion. And, he knows it.”
Now 10, Brilyn is one of 100 children on a trial injection aimed at stopping progression of the disease. He goes out-of-town weekly for injections. This is the first medication for treatment of muscular dystrophy and has been found to help children to walk and live longer. Brilyn has been eligible for many opportunities in medical care because he was diagnosed so early.
Despite injections, Brilyn recently lost his mobility and his now confined to a wheelchair.
“It’s been about two months. We just getting used to it,” Will commented. “It’s been very hard. Me and my children transport him manually, to cars, up and down stairs, to the bathroom. It was hard for me to sign up for a nurse because you don’t want to face that reality. I’m just now learning it’s okay to ask for help.”
“The young boys with this disease, their life expectancy is 16-years-old, and it ravages their bodies,” Will explained.
Though his son struggles, Will says he remains happy and positive that his son is alive.
Aside from the disease, Will says people would never know his son is sick.
“His spirit says it all,” Will said.
Will’s son has a Facebook page, Prayers for Brilyn, where a couple years ago the community started a love campaign.
“From then on, he’s been a rock star,” Will boasted about his son. “We just took his Make a Wish trip this year. Everybody every where he goes are affected by him. He affects me. He makes me a better dad.”
Knowing his time with his son is limited, Will, father of five, wants every moment to be joyous, but not just for them. This father, however, not only wants joy for his children but for all people.
Will’s children range in age from two to adult.
“I love differently than most because there’s no time to waste,” Will said. “I do it because I care. I care about other people. Listen, we could all be selfish, but what would we get? This world is going to hell in a hand-basket, so people say. But, I don’t see that. I’m a foot soldier. I see love everywhere I go. I feel love. Somebody’s got to care 24 hours a day. Somebody has got to be the pace setter. Somebody’s got to be the ground trooper. Somebody’s got to show people that it’s okay to be consistently happy. And no matter what you go through, go through it. No matter what emotions you express, you still have to go through it. So, why not go through inspiring everybody else. If someone with as much on their plate as me can inspire than others can inspire.”
For Will, love is a lifestyle, not a gimmick. That is why he is the chef he is.
“When I got this job, they told me they wanted to sell happy and everyone told them if they wanted to sell happy, go get Will Robinson. That meant a lot to me,” Will explained.
He feels blessed that he can be a beacon of positivity. This father, chef, giver, server, Will Robinson continues to give love and give it freely.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.