At the start of 2014, David and Misti Maddron’s family had recently doubled in size. Adam and Autumn, both adopted like the oldest, Andrew, had just joined their family, and Misti was about to give birth to their first biological child, Asher. In the midst of this rapid family growth, Andrew, a third grader, heard about Pine Cove on a local Dallas radio station and eagerly began asking if he could go.
“I thought, there is no way we can afford this right now,” says Misti.
But after doing a little research, she discovered financial assistance opportunities through Pine Cove’s Project 319 scholarship fund and filled out an application. To Andrew’s delight, they received the financial assistance they needed to make camp a reality! Three and a half months after Asher was born, all six members of the Maddron family came to drop off Andrew at the Towers.
“I remember taking pictures of Andrew and Asher in Andrew’s bunk,” says David, recalling how small Asher was and how excited Andrew was to have a baby brother.
After leaving their oldest at camp, the Maddrons returned home to what they thought would be a normal week, but on Tuesday, they experienced a devastating blow that would change their lives forever. That morning, David and Autumn went to Arlington for a softball clinic and Misti was home alone with the two youngest boys. When she noticed Adam and Asher were sleeping a little later than usual, she went to the back of the house to check on them.
“When I went in, Asher had stopped breathing,” says Misti.
Immediately, she performed CPR and called 911. The local EMS team arrived shortly after and prepared to take Asher to the hospital across the street.
“I called David and told him that Asher was sick and he needed to come now,” recalls Misti. “It all seemed like slow motion but so fast at the same time.”
By the time David made it back to Kaufman, the medical team was preparing to air lift Asher to Dallas Children’s Hospital. When they arrived in Dallas, the doctor invited David and Misti into a room for an update. Due to a lack of oxygen, the doctor explained, Asher’s brain was seizing and swelling. He presented them with two options: to leave Asher on life support or to take him off and keep him comfortable. The doctor stepped out of the room to give Misti and David time to make their decision.
“I remember looking at each other in shock, but recognizing in that moment that Asher wasn’t meant for here. It would be incredibly selfish for us to leave him on life support and for his brain to continue to swell,” says David.
So together, David and Misti came to the conclusion to take Asher off of life support, and he passed away soon after.
Emotionally drained and heartbroken, David and Misti returned home. What had started out as a beautiful day had turned dark and stormy, and when they approached their driveway, they saw Autumn playing in the downpour. As they walked into the house, Autumn ran after them, pointing to the pasture across the street, exclaiming, “Mom, Dad, there’s a rainbow! Asher’s smiling at us!”
“I think, to this day, it’s the brightest double rainbow I’ve ever seen,” David says.
That night, as David and Misti considered this rainbow as a symbol of hope in the midst of tragedy, an idea sparked. Instead of filling a church or cemetery with flowers, they would ask family and friends to honor Asher’s life in a way that would have lasting value. “If folks were going to contribute money to something, we wanted it to be something that had worth, something that would make a difference.” Plus, since David and Misti both work in children’s ministry, they were drawn to the idea of a contribution geared toward kids. Thus the charitable foundation Asher’s Rainbow was born.
Meanwhile, Tuesday and Wednesday came and went, and Andrew was still at camp. David and Misti called Pine Cove on Wednesday and spoke to Andrew “Get Smart” Boshell, the director of the Towers. When they arrived at the Towers on Thursday, the Maddrons were led to a comfortable, private room where they could break the news to their oldest son.
“Get Smart helped us navigate that conversation with our Andrew,” said David, “and his demeanor during that difficult moment was such a huge blessing.”
Andrew’s counselor had recently suffered the unexpected loss of his father and was able to help Andrew grapple with his loss as well. To the Maddrons, this was just one of the many ways that God showed up in the details and provided who Andrew needed along the way.
Like the rest of his family, Andrew was heartbroken. “Nobody wanted me to have a baby more than Andrew,” says Misti. “I say this all the time that Andrew prayed Asher up. Asher was our first biological child, and Andrew was the biggest believer that Mama was going to have a baby.”
Two weeks later, Pine Cove called Misti and offered to bring Andrew back for a second week of camp in August. Not wanting Andrew to associate the trauma of losing Asher with his week at camp, the Maddrons agreed and Andrew had a great week. When he returned, he expressed the desire to see other kids who had experienced a tragic loss have the opportunity to go to Pine Cove. So, in the name of Andrew’s Wish, Asher’s Rainbow began contributing annually to Pine Cove’s Project 319 scholarship fund, and the organization continues to give faithfully.
Six years later, Andrew has been back to camp four times, the last two times on a scholarship; Autumn has been twice, both times on a scholarship; and Adam, who just finished first grade, went to camp this summer for the first time on a scholarship as well.
“Andrew’s week at the Shores this year was one of the biggest spiritual game changers of his life,” says Misti. “We saw his desire and love for the Lord grow leaps and bounds. He’s always been a good kid, but he says he really feels a personal connection and relationship to God now. We’ve even seen Autumn getting into God’s Word on her own, with the encouragement of Andrew.”
Though the Maddron family has experienced unimaginable loss, David and Misti believe that Asher’s mission on earth is to spread God’s Word to the world. From sending kids to camp through Project 319 to distributing Bibles in native languages across six continents, Asher’s Rainbow seeks to share God’s generosity and the hope of Jesus with the world.
“So many people miss the fingerprints of God, but they’re everywhere. He’s in the details,” says Misti. “He’s been so good, so generous to us, and so faithful. He was faithful in giving us Asher and we’ve just seen His faithfulness continue.”
If you would like to get involved with Asher’s Rainbow, you can find more information at AshersRainbow.org.
Photography by Ellie “Dancing Queen” Bennett
Posted Mar 16, 2021