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Rockford brothers work to raise money for cousin diagnosed with brain tumor

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Brayden Pic 1

ROCKFORD (WREX) — As a kid, you probably tried to find a way to make some extra money.

Usually through chores from your parents or picking up a summer job like a paper route or mowing lawns.

Jackson and Jonah Johnson had the desire to earn some cash, but they took a different approach.

A bit of a smellier one at that.

The brothers have been going to homes in Rockford to pick up dog poop on the weekends.

"It's not the most glamourous job but to go out and scoop poop but they go out and do it," Jackson and Jonah's mom Haylee Johnson said.

The boys service, affectionately known as the Doggy Doo Crew, cleans up roughly three yards on average every Saturday, scooping up some cash and appreciation for their efforts.

However, a couple of weeks ago, their focus changed.

They were no longer collecting money for themselves, but for their cousin Brayden.

Brayden lives in Utah and was diagnosed with a brain tumor last month.

Jackson and Jonah, though they don't know their cousin well, did know they wanted to do something for him.

"We just felt for our cousin and wanted to help him out because if we were in his situation it would be very hard for us so we're just trying to do some little things to help him out," Jackson Johnson said.

So the Doggy Doo Crew took to Facebook, sharing Brayden's story and asking if anyone wanted to help.

The boys initial goal was to raise enough money to buy Brayden a Nintendo Switch.

A milestone that was crushed in mere minutes after posting online.

The community quickly showed out to help the boys' cause, quadrupling their donation goal and getting a brand new Nintendo Switch from an anonymous donor.

"We didn't expect this much. We didn't expect even getting to the goal but with the help of other people, we've made it," Jackson said.

The support from the community came as a pleasant surprise for the Johnson family.

Happy not only to see their sons hard at work but their neighbors acknowledging their desire to do good.

"Knowing that they have big hearts makes all the difference," Jackson and Jonah's dad Justin Johnson said.

"They've never even met this cousin but they know he's going through a hard time and they wanted to do what they could to help and this is what they could do with the abilities they have and it just makes us feel great as parents."

Both Jackson and Jonah are quick to give the community the credit before themselves.

They see their work as just that, work, and the willingness of others to help is the important part of their cause.

"We're just going out and cleaning dog poop. They're the ones giving the money and donating and they have just been really helpful," Jonah Johnson said.

"It feels like we have been really blessed with all the people that have been helping us."

Last week, after weeks in the hospital, doctors said Brayden's tumor is benign.

According to his mom, Brayden will have to have a follow up MRI in 6 months then one every year for the next 10 years.

As Jackson and Jonah's mom said, the work they are doing isn't glamourous but it was all in the name of helping their family which is a message that is always important, especially this time of year.

This small gesture is all it takes to make our community a better place, in hopes this attitude and morale can continue to spread across the 815.

If there is anyone you know in our area who is impact lives here at home or anywhere in the world for the better, fill out a nomination form here or reach out to

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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