Anchorage families remember terminally ill child by trick-or-treating in September

Anchorage families remember terminally ill child by trick-or-treating in September
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 9:23 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Seventeen years ago, Ian Robbins — a terminally sick child with Leukemia — had one final wish to celebrate Halloween.

Ian’s parents were told by their child’s doctors that he may not make it to Oct. 31, 2005.

“My husband and some wonderful neighbors ran around the neighborhood on a Wednesday,” Joyce Durcanin-Robbins, Ian’s mom, said. “By that Sunday, they were hoping to have a dozen houses so that he could trick or treat one last time.”

To their amazement, many houses and children came out to celebrate Halloween in September, and the tradition of “Trick or Treat in the Heat” has been going strong ever since.

One person who has been here since the first “Trick or Treat in the Heat” is Steve Franklin, the DJ of the event.

“It has grown now to eight neighborhoods, in Eagle River, Wasilla, and here in Anchorage, so it’s getting bigger and bigger,” Franklin told a crowd of onlookers Sunday.

Every year, the event raises money for Hospice of Anchorage, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Anchorage Ronald McDonald House Charities, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to charity. The Robbins estimate that they’ve raised over $500,000 dollars over the 17 years since its start.

“Certainly, this day is rooted in sorrow and it’s not an easy day,” Durcanin-Robbins said. “I am absolutely gobsmacked through the memories of this event with Ian, and through the years — it’s wind beneath our wings. So uplifting.”

It’s not an easy day for Ian’s family, but they are so happy about the memories that have resonated from this event.

Although Ian is now gone, his mom leaves a picture of him in his Buzz Lightyear costume and his bucket that he trick-or-treated with outside of their house every year.

“Without fail from year to year, from our porch, we can see parents stopping and explaining to their children and tell them the story of why they’re trick or treating in September,” she said. “And kids will spontaneously take a piece of their candy and put it in Ian’s bucket. They get it.”