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Our Founder

My name is Joel Johnson, I am the Founder of the For a Dad Foundation. I am a full-time resident in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. After being a resident in Austin, Texas for 39 years and raising our kids in the most gracious community in the world (Westlake) I found that the cold and the Mountains and all that Boulder offers sings to my very soul. My experience with being a caretaker to my late wife, a widower and being a single Dad started almost 15 years ago when my late wife and mother to our children passed away February 18, 2005. Debbie passed away from stage IV lung cancer (she never smoked). This life-changing event, along with various other hardships over the years has completely changed the course of our lives and continues to do so to this very day.


When Debbie’s diagnoses came back as terminal, I was paralyzed at times. I knew I had to keep going but how? What was I to do? How could I keep my wits about me while breaking down emotionally multiple times in a single day? How would I manage everything with so much grief and sorrow being experienced from this tragic situation? The thought of losing a beautiful person to this planet was bad enough, much less my wife and the mother to our children. How were we going to walk through this? How could I demonstrate hope with knowing the truth about her condition? What and when would we tell the children? I was filled with every dark emotion imaginable while needing to be strong for my children and for Debbie. I experienced even more emotions when I would look into the eyes of my children and see their pain and fear. There were times that this fear and disbelief literally froze me. I was in a tremendous amount of fear and yet was walking through the pain moment-by-moment, day-by-day, month-by-month. The Children, The Church, The Community, Our Faith made it possible to trudge through this most difficult situation. They all deserve the highest honor for being strong, faithful and courageous in such difficult situations.


God Bless these two beautiful gifts who are our children (Adam and Amanda) for staying the course – well done! You both know what I mean – I love you with ALL of my heart – my heart is yours.




Through the experiences and struggles, I have had over these past 15 years, I felt it necessary to organize a foundation whose primary purpose will be to help other Dads who are in need – before during and after the loss of their spouse. Our mission is to give you hope should something this tragic happens to you or someone whom you know. To help support you and your children when you feel most alone and have nobody to turn to is the primary reason that the For a Dad Foundation. We intend to be with you along with other single Dad’s who have experienced a similar tragedy. We will walk hand-in-hand with you on your journey.