They say family is more than just blood relations.
"I like to go swimming with her because she is an excellent swimmer too, and I go play with her in this swimming pool a lot. Right?"
For the Edlunds, Building Blocks Daycare and Preschool has become their family and blood... their lifeline.
"Recently my youngest daughter Lorelei was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia," mom Erin Edlund said. "Lolo was in the hospital for almost a month and a half and our kids could not visit because of COVID. And so Evelyn was really looking for a way to try to do something to channel her energy and to make use of a tough situation."
Evelyn has partnered with Building Blocks to host a blood drive in her sister's honor. At just 5 years old, Lolo has had four transfusions already.
"It's very important to me because I feel like when she was in the children's hospital, I couldn't go sit with her," Evelyn said standing beside her sister, "and I feel like one way to help her is to help with this blood drive."
This drive also comes at a time where blood donations are falling short of the need.
"There is not a lot of blood in hospitals because of COVID and things," Evelyn said of the other reason why she wanted to host this drive. "So it's important that we're donating blood to the hospitals so that they have it for people who need it."
"I think we're all trying to find ways right now to cope with this and so one of the things that we talked about was the fact that there are blood shortages all over the country right now," Erin said of the drive. "Lolo happens to have one of the more rare types, she's O-negative. And so knowing that there are shortages out there is pretty scary for our family, especially because we never know when she may need blood again."
So the Edlunds approached Building Blocks to help host the drive.
"At Building Blocks, it means the world to us. We've been open since 2004, and a lot of people look at us as just childcare, but really we're a family and so it means a lot to me." For Building Blocks, hosting this event was an easy choice. They had been thinking of hosting one already when Evelyn and the Edlunds brought up the idea to them.
"And it dug deep, I guess and we just need to take care of each other and have each other's back," said Building Blocks owner Stacy Eldridge, "and if anybody out there needs any sort of blood then I think anybody should give. So when it hit home, you have to act."
For Erin and Jeff, watching their kids rally around each other has helped them all get through it together.
"I couldn't be more proud as a mom to see my kid, finding a way to overcome tough things," Erin said, "and to be gritty and really try to make something good out of something that's maybe really hard and tough."
I think that they just showed remarkable resolve," Jeff said of his kids. "I can't imagine trying to understand it at 10 and at five, still trying to process. As an adult and as a parent."
Lolo recently finished in-patient treatment and still has a few years of treatment to go for her leukemia.
"They say that it takes a village to raise a child and I think having a child who's going through cancer and going through what our family is going through, it takes many villages," Erin said. "And we are fortunate to be connected to a lot of really great people and villages who have had our backs."
"It's been humbling," Jeff said, "the support that we've had from the very get-go has been remarkable and emotional and wonderful. We couldn't have asked for anything better."
The Edlund's say that while they have only been a part of the Sgt. Bluff community for three years, they've been welcomed with open arms, especially during this challenging time.
"The community has really rallied around us," Erin said. "I can't say enough about how lucky we are to live in a place like Sergeant Bluff because the community has supported us in so many ways. And when you're being supported like that it feels so critical to give back. Even though right now, I don't mean that feel like we have enough capacity, we really do want to do something like this. This helps Lolo and it helps kids all over the country and adults all over the country who need blood."
While Evelyn can't donate herself yet, she's hoping this drive can help save others' lives, like Lolo.
"It's something that should come and do because while you're helping not only the whole community," she said, "but you're also helping kids and other people who are hurt or sick that need the blood."
"It's easily the hardest thing that we've ever gone through in our lives," Erin said, "and I think that as a parent, one of the most important things that we can teach our kids going through a hard time like this is to not let something like this break you, but let us help you bounce."
The blood drive already has over 30 Siouxlanders signed up with more spots available. If you would like to sign up, you can do so at the link here.
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