ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Five siblings are spending their summer making a difference for a brother and sister in St. Paul with a rare terminal disorder.
The Andersons are raising money for Lydia and Drew Wahlstrom. WCCO has shared stories about the kids with Batten Disease since 2016 when Lydia’s grandpa took her to prom at age 11.
Their disease has progressed and it’s crucial for their parents to find an accessible home, so the Anderson siblings chose to pitch in.
Mowing a neighbor’s lawn and sweeping a driveway is the way the Anderson kids have spent their free time. The project to help Lydia and Drew Wahlstrom started with 10-year-old Isaac’s idea.
“I decided to raise money to have them get a house that they can move around in safely,” Isaac Anderson said.
Batten is similar to ALS, but kids with the disease, like Lydia and Drew, have seizures, lose their eyesight, experience dementia and cognitive decline. Every day and moment they’re alive is precious.
At a young age, these kids know removing barriers is key. So Isaac asked for money for this birthday instead of gifts.
“It went really well, we raised $500,” Isaac Anderson said.
His older brother got on board.
“I thought that was a good idea so me and him decided to start doing that and then I’ve helped out by mowing people’s lawns throughout the summer,” 13-year-old Alexander Anderson said.
And soon their younger sisters and brother followed.
“I’ve been picking up dog poop and weeds,” 6-year-old Luke Anderson said.
“We’ve been pretty busy with it but we get like $2 each, so we get $6 every time,” 8-year-old Gabbie Anderson said.
“They need a house,” 6-year-old Katelynn said.
And the kindness spread. One family hosted a lemonade stand. There was another birthday party asking for donations as gifts.
“Our goal is to get a thousand dollars and we’re almost there,” Gabbie Anderson said.
Lydia and Drew’s parents were overwhelmed to learn of their kindness.
“I’ve gotten goosebumps every time I think about it. I’m blown away by these little guys and what they’ve done this summer. It’s very inspiring,” Laura Wahlstrom said.
“They’re family from church and family helps family,” Alexander Anderson said.
The Anderson kids hope what they’re doing will spark other acts of kindness.
WCCO viewers are incredibly generous. After a non-profit helping the family folded, many donated so they can build or find an existing home that works. Those donations and a large one WCCO learned about will go a long way in making that happen.