Grant Recipients

Over the past decade, the Northern Lights Foundation has granted more than $350,000 to over 160 Northland families. Each family has its own story to tell and you can hear some of them below. Foundation grants are unrestricted which means families can use the funds for whatever needs they may have.

Isaac Carlson - Wisconsin

Isaac is 7 years old. He is wise beyond his years, thoughtful, kind, funny and always has a smile on his face – no matter what. At the age of 5, Isaac was diagnosed with Leukemia.His family was forever changed from the moment they heard this news. They are humble, supportive, caring and above all fighters for their son’s life. Today, now feeling healthy and stronger, Isaac loves to re-enact WWE wrestling with his younger brother Noah. They watch the sport frequently together and like to take out their little-boy-energy out on each other in the purest of ways. There’s a carryover theme from the high stakes living room wrestling to his family’s approach to defeating his fight with Leukemia.Their entire family went to the ring to focus on beating Isaac’s cancer from the first round. Mom and Dad kept their businesses running, children educated in homeschooling and spirits UP during the very difficult days of dealing with the diagnosis. They have never lost sight of each other in this fight together. Because of their positive energy, fighting love and passionate hearts, takeIsaac has won. A family of fighters giving it all takes the ultimate title home, their healthy son.


Aria Rose Grams - Duluth

Nine days after Aria’s first birthday, she went into full cardiac arrest and was resuscitated by her mother, Tara.  She was transported to a hospital in Duluth by ambulance where an x-ray revealed that she had an enlarged heart.  Aria was soon helicoptered to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis and she was diagnosed with myocarditis – a viral infection of the heart.  She went into cardiac arrest again and was helicoptered to the Mayo, Clinic in Rochester where she spent 101 days on life support awaiting a heart transplant.  During that time, Aria suffered multiple strokes, but on September 13, 2015, she received a new heart.


AMarie Johnson – Minneapolis/St. Paul

During a routine ultrasound, doctors discovered an abnormality in the heart of Brianna and Thomas Johnson’s baby girl. The anxious parents were referred to the Perinatal Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis where they learned that their baby’s heart had only three and a half chambers rather than four. Only six days after being born, little AMarie underwent her first surgery. Her doctors say she will need a few additional surgeries, the last of which she will undergo when she is three to four years old. Her father is optimistic noting that AMarie was born in August and is a Leo. He says she has the heart of a lion.

Cade Slattengren - Duluth

In the summer of 2014, after scoring the winning run in a championship baseball game, 13-year-old Cade Slattengren discovered some large lumps in his armpits.  The next day, during an appointment at Essentia Health, an x-ray revealed that he had a large mass in his chest.  He was helicoptered to the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities where he was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  During the first ten months of his 3 ½ year treatment plan, Cade had to spend one week each month in the hospital.  He is currently in remission but must continue treatment until 2017.


Anders Breidenbach - Duluth

During Anders’ nine-month well child check, his pediatrician noticed that one of Anders’ eyes was not reacting the way it should. Anders was referred to an ophthalmologist who told his parents that Anders had cancer. Within a week of being diagnosed, he began chemotherapy. One of the cancerous tumors kept returning; so after a year, he was referred to St. Jude’s for further treatment. This story has a happy ending because Anders is now cancer free, and his eye was able to be saved. Today, he reads like crazy, skis and does all the things other boys his age do.