Rodger’s Story

Rodger’s Story

; Why?

WHY? This question has been asked continually since the conception of the Alive & Running Dunkerton 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention. We decided to sit down and draft up an answer for you.

Our story dates back to January 8, 1991. As sophomores at Dunkerton Community High School, the class of 1993 lost a classmate. We lost him in a way we never dreamed imaginable. Several of his closest friends received a phone call before school that cold Tuesday morning from his parents. They had woken that morning and couldn't find their son, Rodger. Most had figured he had gone on a walk as he often did to think and clear his thoughts. However, one classmate felt something deep inside, a need to be there, a need to help look for him. He did just that and went to the farmhouse to help Rodger’s parents search for their son.

As the bell rang to end the second hour, no students were allowed to leave their classrooms. "Why not?" "I have to get to my next class." "I need to use the restroom." "You can’t keep us in here." "What's going on?" No matter the excuse, no one was leaving any classroom. And then came the announcement, "A member of the student body had been shot." You can imagine the response of the students. "Murder?" “Who?” "Where?"


It wasn’t long after that horrific announcement that we had learned that Rodger Dos, our 15-year-old classmate, had taken his life. He had committed suicide. As for the classmate who felt the need to help, his worst nightmare had come true. He found his best friend laying in the snow. At first, he thought maybe he was just unconscious. But when he got to him, he saw Rodger as he never dreamed imaginable. Rodger had taken his life with a gun.

We all lost someone that day. A son, a brother, a grandson, a close friend, a teammate, a student, an acquaintance. We all lost because Rodger felt he had nowhere to turn. Sure, looking back, all the warning signs were there. Hindsight is 20/20.

Now fast forward to today, the young man who found Rodger that day was Ryan Nesbit. After many years of inner turmoil, lost sleep, late-night conversations with friends & family, he has decided to help. He wants to help another Rodger. He wants to prevent this from happening again. He wants people to know there are other options. Ryan is now a QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) and an ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) instructor. Ryan teaches these suicide intervention trainings all over Iowa. Ryan and I firmly believe in bringing mental health education to audiences all over Iowa.

I have been Ryan's friend since 1980. I can't begin to count the hours of conversations, the emails, the tears, and the memories that Rodger's death has provided. When he called me about giving back I jumped at the chance.

So, to answer the question "Why?" ... why are we having a Suicide Awareness and Prevention 5K Run/Walk? That is why. We want to save lives.

We hope you will join us. Volunteer ... participate ... donate money ... raise money. Everyone has their role. What will yours be?


Troy Belmer, Co-Founder