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Asher’s Bash and Rainbow Dash to Beat Childhood Cancer

Northwestern Mutual community comes together in memory of Asher Michael Johnston

By Bonnie Lattimore, Director of Strategic Partnerships
rainbow dash event group

Asher’s Childhood Cancer Story

“Asher Michael Johnston entered this world on June 18th, 2021. Perceived birth trauma to his left eye orbit quickly landed Asher in the emergency room. On July 4th at 16 days old Asher was diagnosed with Stage 1 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and started chemotherapy immediately.

On October 15th just after landing in Boston for radiation treatment. We were given the devastating news that Metastasis had occurred to Asher’s nervous system and there were no options with positive outcomes available. Asher continued treatment for 7 more weeks without success and on December 9th, 2021 grew his Angel wings and went home to Heaven. We always knew God would be his ultimate healer we just didn’t imagine it “this” way. Asher is an angel that graced us on this earth for 174 days and left a lasting touch on every soul that knew him.” – Heather Johnston (Asher’s Mom)

Honoring Asher Michael Johnston

Asher’s family knew that they wanted to build a legacy in memory of their strong and joyous baby boy so, Asher’s Bash & Rainbow Dash was created! Heather and Josh Johnston, Asher’s parents, knew that funding childhood cancer research would be a meaningful way to honor Asher’s memory.

Now putting on an event to celebrate and honor Asher was no small task. With only a few months to put together this fundraiser, Asher’s parents enlisted the help of the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation and Northwestern Mutual.  Asher’s father, Josh Johnston, is a Managing Director at Northwestern Mutual in Manhattan Beach, and after sharing Asher’s story, they were more than motivated to jump in and help bring Asher’s Bash & Rainbow Dash to fruition. While the planning process was in full swing, I as the Director of Strategic Partnerships along with PCRF’s Senior Director of Events, Erin Arreola, Northwestern Mutual’s Director of Operations Michelle Dixon, and the Northwestern Mutual Philanthropy Committee met weekly to ensure that Asher’s Bash and Rainbow Dash would be a success.

Asher’s Bash & Rainbow Dash took place on June 18, 2022, in Hermosa Beach, CA. It was an event that captured the fun and lightheartedness that childhood should have. The event was hosted by Northwestern Mutual and brought in employees from across the country to donate, participate and volunteer for this event. The Johnston family saw their community come out in full force to honor Asher on what would have been his 1st birthday making it an emotional occasion.  

Together we were able to pull off an amazing event and raise $300k for childhood cancer research! 

The effects of these types of partnerships have a huge ripple effect. Staff members from NM who may have been touched for the first time by pediatric cancer are able to learn about the urgent need for funding.  They are then more educated and able to spread the word to their families and friends.  Neighbors around the park where the event was held came over to inquire about PCRF and learn more about Asher.  Some of them learning about the harsh reality of childhood cancer for the first time. These are the people who never met Asher but were so touched by his story and our mission, that they felt compelled to support. 

We are so fortunate to have been able to be a small part of celebrating Asher and are honored to partner with Northwestern Mutual to ensure that Asher’s legacy lives on. If you are interested in supporting Asher’s Bash & Rainbow Dash, please consider making a donation here.  For more information on partnering with PCRF, please contact me at blattimore@pcrf-kids.org

Josh and Heather Johnston at Asher’s Bash & Rainbow with their daughter Charlotte