Even the smallest angel can have the largest impact.
At least, that’s what the Tenino City Council thought when it declared April 19 “Raise for Rowyn Day” at a recent meeting.
After Brynn Johnson suffered the worst experience a parent could endure with the death of her 17-month-old daughter Rowyn, who died after being accidentally run over by a vehicle in their driveway, she founded the Raise for Rowyn organization in 2014 to assist others who have experienced the same pain and losses.
Due to all the good work Johnson and her organization have done since that time, and to honor the memory of Rowyn, Johnson’s family and the Rise for Rowyn board hosted a surprise party for Johnson Tuesday morning as Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier presented Johnson with a copy of the resolution to make April 19 “Raise for Rowyn Day” in perpetuity with the city of Tenino.
Johnson, who had no idea the city and her family were going to do this for her late daughter, arrived at the Raise for Rowyn headquarters on Sussex Avenue in Tenino unaware of what the day would hold. Seeing her family gathered Tuesday on Rowyn’s birthday of all days, moved Johnson to tears.
“This blew me away,” Johnson told The Chronicle with tears in her eyes. “I was super surprised. I had no idea. (I’m) shocked in all the right ways. This is really special.”
When Fournier presented Johnson with the resolution, he opened with a few words of levity regarding Johnson and her husband Cody.
“I want to recognize that they are the longest and most enduring relationship to ever come out of my parents’ hot tub,” he said.
Yet after the joke, he took a more serious tone, reading the resolution to Johnson and her gathered family, which heralded all the work Raise for Rowyn has done across the country to help families who’ve experienced their darkest day.
“Now, therefore, in celebration of this organization’s impact on families in the Tenino community, throughout Washington state and all around the country, April 19 will celebrate Rowyn’s birthday and will be designated ‘Raise for Rowyn day in the city of Tenino from here on forth.”
Johnson took a moment to reflect on Rowyn’s legacy in the community with The Chronicle.
“I mean, how amazing? I feel just like she is such a huge part of this community still, and this is a really great way to honor her,” Johnson said through tears. “Her memory will never be forgotten in this town. This is really awesome.”
Since 2014, Raise for Rowyn has served over 500 families nationwide that have suffered the loss of a child. The organization helps families with emotional support as well as financial resources for the laying to rest of each of their own “angels,” as Johnson put it.
As for the city of Tenino’s feeling on the matter, Fournier said an honor like this was past due.
“They are not only impactful here in Tenino, but they are impactful all over the country,” Fournier said. “I feel, and so does the city council, that this is an organization that really exemplifies Tenino’s best and how we can create all sorts of different things here and share with the world, and it’s significant. They are a real example of tragedy turned to triumph, and it’s inspiring to everybody.”
To learn more about the organization, visit https://www.raise4rowyn.org.