To date we have helped 274 grieving families cover funeral & Mortuary expenses all over the country. 

 

We have had some amazing opportunities to share our mission and the story of how we got here.

We appreciate the support so much, Here are a few publications and news segments who have helped spread our mission.

Washington State CFD

October, 2018

King 5 News, Take 5

April 2018

Glamour Magazine

April 2018

Thurston Talk

February 2018

 

 

Record-Setting $160,000 Raised at

Annual Raise for Rowyn Auction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As thousands flocked to tulip festivals last weekend, on a road less traveled, a secret garden was also in full bloom, and its visitors were treated to a magnificent display of life and love that inspired the planting of a record-setting $160,000 into the local charity behind the 3rd Annual Raise for Rowyn Dinner Auction.

Raise for Rowyn is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance and emotional support to families who have lost a child. It was founded by Brynn Johnson and Cassie Miller in memory of Brynn’s 17-month old daughter Rowyn, who died in a tragic accident on September 16, 2014.  While their vision was to primarily focus on local families, enormous community support has so far enabled RFR to help 114 families in 17 states with mortuary and funeral expenses.

The annual dinner auction, which has been largely supported by the Lucky Eagle Casino, is the premiere Raise for Rowyn event to raise money to help as many families as possible in the year ahead. 

“Rowyn’s Secret Garden” was the theme of this year’s event, and it proved fitting as the evening landscape grew ever more vibrant with each little touch.  Beautiful pictures of Rowyn’s Angels lit up the room, welcoming every guest to share in the celebration of their lives.  Hand-crafted birds flew overhead, each named for a child lost.  

Even a passing glance at the storyboard displaying the names and hometowns of the children being honored was enough to realize and appreciate just how far reaching Raise for Rowyn has become.   

Throughout the secret garden were rows upon rows of auction items donated by hundreds of individual supporters and local businesses, from coffee, wine and weekend getaways to sporting event tickets, tools and travel packages.  

As always, Rowyn took center stage at the event. While a garden swing hanging alongside her portrait evoked memories of how Raise for Rowyn began, every hand raised in bidding seemed also to be waving to Rowyn onstage.

Special guest speaker Brad Tower, who connected with Raise for Rowyn after the loss of his own three children (Ben, Maddy and Sam), eloquently expressed how supporters are helping him heal when he said, “Raise for Rowyn provides me with the strength that I don’t yet have on my own.”

The evening in the secret garden ended in splendor as Johnson, with the strength and grace that has become the hallmark of her organization, gently shifted the focus of this annual event from its tearful origins to honoring the families it serves. 

In her notably brief closing remarks, Johnson simply said, “You all know why I’m here, so I’m not going to go into that.”  

And with that, she gazed upon the great crowd gathered in the garden and thanked God and all who continue the legacy of her daughter by supporting Raise for Rowyn

Harts & Pearls

January 2017

Beauty Through Tragedy:

Brynn Johnson | Raise For Rowyn

 

 

Written by Desiree Burgess

 

Just a few days after my interview with my husband, Ron Alford, posted last September, I received a sweet message telling me about a woman close by with an incredible story. Upon reading the message I knew I needed to meet this lady and do all I could to extend my hand, walk with her through her pain, and also join her in giving back.

As a new year begins and life is before us, we never know what is on the horizon, Brynn Johnson is one woman that made the choice to rise above through tragedy, she pushed into her pain and found a way to bring hope, even as her own heart was breaking. Take a moment to hear her incredible journey, what she is doing to raise spirits and funds for many families across the country, and how you can all now help.

Shop Harts & Pearls 

The Chronicle

December 2016

Eric Schwartz Commentary: Confessions of a Reluctantly Teary-Eyed Small-Town Journalist

By Eric Schwartz / The Chronicle | Posted December 2,2016

 

I’m not a very sentimental guy.

I prefer gallows humor to slapstick comedy and a good thriller over an emotional drama.

Still, there I was Tuesday in Tenino, using the clean corner of a used napkin to catch a tear at the corner of my eye before it trickled down my face. 

The room, darkened in order to allow for the display of a video, was filled with others making similar efforts to hide, or at least control, their emotions. 

I was at a holiday gathering for Raise for Rowyn, an organization that raises and distributes money to help pay for the funeral expenses for families who have lost a child. 

The woman on the screen was discussing, in heart-wrenching detail, how she had seen her sweet, precious and irreplaceable daughter die right in front of her. 

Just typing that sentence brings the familiar tear back to the brink.

The added knowledge that the woman made the speech at a Raise for Rowyn event shifts my emotions from sorrow to hope. 

The Tenino-based organization was created because Brynn Johnson, an indescribably strong woman who possesses resolve I can’t even fathom, suffered through a very similar loss in 2014. She lost her daughter — beautiful, blond-haired, endlessly adorable Rowyn — in an accident right in her driveway. 

Most people know the rest of the story by now. 

Brynn and her close friend and fellow founder Cassie Miller were named The Chronicle’s 2015 People of the Year, after all, and the organization is incredibly effective in spreading its message.

This is probably a good time for a disclaimer. 

Against a longheld, self-imposed ban on joining any area boards of organizations in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, I asked Raise for Rowyn leaders earlier this year if I could be of assistance.

My role on the advisory board is impossibly small when compared to the overall effort, which is fueled by the efforts of dozens of volunteers and the financial contributions of thousands of donors who, like me, were touched by the story and inspired by the resilience of the women involved. 

Nonetheless, I note my involvement as a way of being transparent.

With that out of the way, back to the waterworks. 

In preparing a monthly newsletter for Raise for Rowyn, I’m provided with photographs of all the individual children who, in the past month, have died. Aptly dubbed “Rowyn’s Angels” by the nonprofit, the images of the children all represent entire families and communities rocked to their very cores by the excruciatingly painful loss of an innocent child. 

I don’t exaggerate when I say I spend as little time as possible focusing on each individual photograph in order to avoid pesky displays of human emotion. 

The reason is obvious to anyone who has ever cradled a baby in their arms, gazed into their eyes and wondered with boundless enthusiasm what adventures, joys and opportunities awaited them out in the wild world we all call home. 

When such promise is eliminated in the face of the intense love and affection that a good parent feels for their child, the sadness and sorrow is endless.

It says a lot to me that even looking at images reflecting the lost little lives can have the effect that it does on a jaded journalist such as myself.

Carry that sentiment forward by applying it to individuals who have lost a child. 

Brynn Johnson deals with that crushing reality frequently, providing support to women like the one who nearly turned me into a weeping mess of emotion last Tuesday. 

She has the assistance of more volunteers than I can list, and increasingly, they have tried to take some of the load when it comes to communicating with grieving families and allocating funds. It doesn’t take personal experience to know the burden will never be alleviated, and it’s incredible to me the level at which so many people have sacrificed their own grief to assist those in similar pain.  

The organization is growing at a rapid pace thanks to strong leadership, an unassailable mission and the kindness of those who contribute financially. 

They’ve set some lofty goals for the years ahead, but if they were to cease operations today, it would take many, many hours to effectively describe the value of what they’ve already done. 

They’ve brought peace in times of turmoil, a helping hand when many of those they help are busy using their own hands to brush away endless tears. 

You don’t need to be a softy to appreciate that.

Visit www.raiseforrowyn.org to learn more. 

•••

Eric Schwartz is the editor of The Chronicle.

Raise for Rowyn Book Reading at Barnes & Noble

Paul Dunn

Posted: Friday, December 2, 2016 9:32 pm

Photos: Book-Reading Honors Memory of Centralia Girl Lost in Fire By The Chronicle The Chronicle

 

Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Olympia hosted a book-reading of "The Polar Express" on Friday to honor Maddy Tower, one of three children killed in a March 4 house fire in Centralia.

Raise for Rowyn is a nonprofit organization that raises money to help families defray mortuary and funeral expenses for children they have lost.

As part of the event, which was arranged by Maddy's father, Brad Tower, a list of all of Maddy's favorite books was available. "The Conductor" began handing out free tickets at about 7 p.m. for the first 50 kids. He punched their tickets and gave away large "jingle bells."

According to Raise for Rowyn, the Conductor led a game of “Conductor Says” followed by an interactive reading of "The Polar Express."

Attendees were also treated to cocoa and cookies. 

For those who told cashiers at the business they were there for Raise for Rowyn, Barnes and Noble donated 25 percent of the total purchase to the Tenino-based nonprofit. 

The business is continuing that part of the promotion through Dec. 6. 

Visit www.raiseforrowyn.org to learn more. 

Ben, 12, and Maddy, 10, both Washington Elementary School students, and their younger brother Sam, 7, died in a house fire on March 4 in Centralia

The Chronicle

December 2016

Thurston Talk
June 2016
The Chronicle
January 2016

People of the Year: Brynn Johnson and Cassie Miller of Raise for Rowyn

Raise for Rowyn: Brynn Johnson and Cassie Miller Harness Grief to Provide Hope After Death of Child

2015 Persons of the Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted: Friday, January 1, 2016 7:16 pm

By Eric Schwartz / eschwartz@chronline.com

 

The world changed for Tenino residents Brynn Johnson, Cassie Miller and their families on Sept. 16, 2014.

The death of Rowyn Johnson provoked intense grief that remains to this day and likely will never fully subside. 

Still, amid their sorrow, the women formed a powerful bond that led to the creation of Raise for Rowyn, a nonprofit organization focused on assisting families who have experienced the death of a child. 2015 was a year of incredible growth for the nonprofit. It was a time of national television appearances and the collection of thousands of dollars in donations.  It was also another year of mourning for Johnson and Miller, who rose above their emotions to enact positive change that now spans the country. 

Harnessing Grief, Providing Hope: How Two Women Have Battled Sorrow to Help Others Following the Death of Rowyn Johnson

The similarities were too much for Brynn Johnson as she watched a friend’s beautiful blond girl bounce around joyfully at a recent birthday party. 

Before long, the Tenino woman had collapsed against a wall and the tears that she’s perpetually attempting to prevent were flowing freely down her face. 

Later, on Christmas Eve, Cassie Miller was expressing her grief as well, crying uncontrollably while seated in her vehicle at a cemetery, praying out loud as she intensely contemplated the events that led her there. 

Johnson and Miller were both weeping with memories of the life and loss of the same young girl, killed in the driveway of Johnson’s home on Sept. 16, 2014. 

Johnson lost her daughter that day. 

Miller inadvertently caused her death.

It’s a tragedy that threatened to destroy both their lives and almost certainly their friendship. 

Instead, they’ve emerged from those emotional valleys — all the painful holidays, birthdays and constant reminders of the vibrant 17-month-old bundle of love — as living proof that sorrow and grief can be harnessed as a powerful force for enacting good in the world. 

Since the day Rowyn walked out of the house and into the driveway unbeknownst to both women and was killed by a moving vehicle, her name has become widely known.

Johnson, Miller and a team of friends and community members created Raise for Rowyn just three months after her death. 

Johnson put a couple thousand dollars in a bank account to get it started in December 2014

In the time since, the fledgling nonprofit organization has helped pay the funeral expenses for more than 30 children who, like Rowyn, left the world long before their family and friends were ready to say goodbye. 

In all, Johnson and Miller have paid out more than $40,000 through Raise for Rowyn, claiming early success in battling one of Johnson’s greatest fears. 

“I don’t want my daughter to be forgotten,” she said. Continue story Click Here

Inside Edition
12/14/15
Dr. Phil show, aired 10/16/15
Boulder Band Podcast

KOMO 4- Keith Eldridge published 4/24/15

 

TENINO, Wash. -- A Marysville toddler is being laid to rest this weekend after being run over and killed by her father. That family is getting support from two women who know the pain all too well. The mother who lost her child the same way and the 'driver' of the car have teamed up to help others.
 
"She's an inspiration," said Brynn Johnson of her daughter Rowyn. "She was so full of love."  

Brynn and her friend Cassie Miller just can't stop talking about little Rowyn. "I just feel Rowyn is with me in every way in my life," said Cassie.

The fact that these two women are sitting together, they say, is a testament to their strong faith. Rowyn was run over and killed in her driveway seven months ago.  Cassie was the driver picking up Rowyn's brother for preschool.

Brynn, "It really was just that fast."  Cassie, "It was fast."

Brynn says she never blamed Cassie. It was a tragic accident. 

"It's a hard thing to accept and a hard thing to swallow to this day," Cassie said. "I mean, I struggle every day." 

"And both of us blame ourselves," Brynn added. "I think more so than blaming the other person we blame ourselves."

The two comforted each other in grief and have now teamed to lift up Rowyn's legacy, forming the group 'Raise for Rowyn' raising money to help families in child tragedies.

"I really feel a lot of the time I'm just living for her and doing her work," said Cassie. "And I do want to make her proud." 

Brynn added: "Her and God have this plan and we're helping all of these families for them."

When they found out about the 2-year-old girl being run over by her father last weekend in Marysville, they immediately reached out with moral support and said 'Raise for Rowyn' will help cover the funeral costs. 

"I just take it to heart," said Brynn. "I feel their pain."

Since the accident happened in their front driveway, the Johnsons had considered moving away. But they decided against it: "No, this is where the spirit of little Rowyn lives on," Brynn said. They've even put in a memorial garden in the spot where Rowyn loved to play. "I know she was an angle here on Earth," said Brynn.

"Raise for Rowyn" just had a fundraiser and another coming up in August. They've raised enough money to help in other child tragedies including a deadly fire in Winlock and a little boy killed by abuse in Vader.

Raise for Rowyn

PO Box 631/448 Sussex Ave. E. Ste 2

Tenino WA 98589

raise4rowyn@gmail.com

(360)264-7676

2017 Raise for Rowyn. Proudly created with Wix.com

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