Long Beach family foundation continues growing 5 years after teen’s death – Press Telegram

Long beach

Wilson High freshman Luke Johnson had become a bit of an unwilling hero trying to survive leukemia at age 16, at least in part because Third District Councilor Suzie Price was a neighbor and friends with his parents, Todd and Rena Johnson.

Despite bone marrow transplants and more, Luke Johnson died of cancer-related complications in June 2016.

After mourning the loss of their son, the Johnsons began to keep his legacy alive, founding the Luke Tatsu Johnson Foundation and hosting the annual Luke Tatsu Johnson Memorial Golf Tournament in November 2017. tournament returned last week, with dinner for later this month.

That first event raised enough money to provide scholarships to Wilson High golf team members—Luke Johnson was an avid golfer and member of the team—and make a substantial donation to Save Our Sick Kids, a research group seeking to end the infant mortality caused by infections in children with cancer.

In 2018 the golf tournament grew. And 2019 was great, Todd Johnson said.

“Going into this year, we’ve given away about $250,000,” he said on Monday, Oct. 4. “We have the goals that we can help expand.

“We just think it’s important to keep our son’s legacy alive,” he added when asked why they continue to work on the foundation. “We can do something good. And the community outpouring has been amazing.”

While the coronavirus pandemic canceled the group golf tournament and dinner last year, there were virtual events to keep up the momentum. And those events turned into “Luke-tober,” rather than a single day of golf and dinner fundraising.

The annual golf tournament took place on Friday, October 1, at the Recreation Park Golf Course, where Luke Johnson practiced and played. About 90 golfers showed up, his father said. The dinner is separate from the tournament and will take place on Sunday 17 October.

And there are the Luke-toberfest events: a Links4Luke, where people play a round of golf on their course of choice and donate as if they made it to the tournament; and a Move4Luke virtual 5K – with a twist. People can cover the 3.62 miles by walking, running, rollerblading, skateboarding and even surfing.

“We’re going to do our 3.62 right after I’m done talking to you,” Todd Johnson said. “It has really grown, with the virtual wave and the Move4Luke. It’s all a byproduct of what we could do from ’17 to ’19.

“It has grown from a day to a whole month,” he added. “That’s a little hard to imagine.”

Johnson said it is the strength and dedication of his board of directors (mostly family friends) that has allowed the foundation to survive and grow. So is his son Spencer (Luke’s younger brother), who was believed to be co-captain of the Wilson golf team in the season lost to COVID-19 and is now heading to USC.

An assist from the Rally! Foundation, a national childhood cancer treatment organization that both raises money and helps other similar groups make the best use of their money, has expanded the reach of the Luke Tatsu Johnson Foundation, Johnson said. Research efforts in Philadelphia, San Francisco and San Diego have all received donations from the foundation that bears his son’s name.

Local efforts were not ignored either. The Jonathan Jacques Children’s Cancer Institute received a $50,000 donation last year, grants are still flowing to Wilson golfers, and the SOS Kids group is still receiving donations.

“We intend to continue,” Johnson said. “We will keep his legacy alive.”

Tickets are still available for dinner and registrations for Mov4Luke and Links4Luke are still open at TeamTatsu.org.

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