BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) — If you didn’t know their story, you just might think that 6-year-old Madison and 3-year-old Sydney are like any other little sisters.

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But they share something very few other kids do — both underwent heart transplants before ever going to Kindergarten.

”We get over the scary stuff with Madi, and move on with life and just then, when we think it’s safe to breathe again, we get knocked down again by Sydney’s diagnosis,” said mother Linsey Rippy.

Her girls were both diagnosed with a congenital heart defect known as “dilated cardiomyopathy,” a sudden weakening and enlargement of the heart.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic transplanted Madison’s heart three years ago. Sydney received her heart last April.

For Linsey and husband, Noel, their frightening ordeal was made a bit easier by the support of church, family and friends.

“You can’t go through this alone,” Linsey admits.

Turns out they won’t. Friends of the family are holding a benefit on Saturday, Aug. 18 to help ease the financial strain of back-to-back surgeries.

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“We just hope to give them a chance to catch up on bills, and get them back to some sort of normalcy,” said close friend Michelle Adams.

Linsey said one year’s worth of anti-rejection drugs can exceed $40,000, in addition to the frequent schedule of medical check-ups the girls need down in Rochester.

“And I always said that if I have to live in a cardboard box with the kids, I will,” Linsey said. “I know it won’t come to that.”

The reality is last Christmas it nearly did. They fell behind on their mortgage and were able to hold onto their home thanks to the generosity of their church and a family support grant from a dilated cardiomyopathy group.

Still, even with good health insurance, the expenses are overwhelming.

“Being the only income, it can wear on you, emotionally and physically,” Noel said.

Difficult as it’s been, they’ve overcome the challenge and hold two miracles in their arms.

The benefit for the Rippy family will be held at the Fridley VFW Post 363 at 1040 Osborne Road.

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A spaghetti dinner will be served between 1 and 4 p.m., including a silent auction, raffle, bake sale and live music.