In August Joel and Michelle Collins’ twin sons, Miles and Pearson, were born three months premature. Shortly after that, a tornado damaged their home in Montello.

Due to the difficult times the Collins faced, their cousins, Tomah High School students Madison and Carson Lindauer, decided to do something to help them out financially. They decided to make and sell bracelets — blue and green ones representing Pearson and orange and red representing Miles.

Madison Lindauer said the idea came to life when she and her brother were playing Wii in the basement not long after returning from a family vacation.

“We were trying to brainstorm ideas of what we could do to help them, and I make these bracelets for my friends, like the friendship ones with thread, and I thought that maybe we could make the bracelets for them, Miles and Pearson,” she said. “(Carson) bought all the thread and I braided them and we sold them for $5 each and ... the money got donated to (their cousins).”

The siblings spread the word about the bracelets by posting about them on Madison Lindauer’s Instagram and Carson Lindauer’s Snapchat pages.

Madison Lindauer said she and her brother felt the need to help their cousin and his family. She said the two families are very close.

“These were their first kids, so we were pretty scared for them because it was already going to be stressful and nerve-wracking to have new babies, and it just seemed like it was unfair to them that they had to go through that,” she said. “Joel has always been really close with us, and he has been pretty much like a friend to us because he’s not that much older, so we wanted to help him out because we love him a lot.”

Carson Lindauer agrees.

“He’s always there for us and he’s done a lot of stuff for us that we just thought we’d do something for him because we love him,” he said.

In total they raised $400, selling to people as far away as La Crosse and Wisconsin Dells. They gave the money to the Collins’ for Christmas.

Dawn Lindauer, Madison and Carson’s mother, said the Collins’ were surprised by the gift.

“(Michelle) opened the envelope and looked inside and was like ‘oh!’ and her husband had one of the babies on his chest and she’s like, ‘Joel, here,’ and he’s like ‘Jimminy Christmas’ or something like that,” she said. “They were very shocked and surprised and grateful. They’ve been through quite a bit.”

It wasn’t the family’s only Christmas gift. The babies were released from the hospital in early December and are doing well.

Dawn Lindauer said she was surprised when she found out what her children were doing since they both are busy teenagers and because they were trying to keep it secret, but she’s proud of them. Both play varsity basketball at THS − Madison Lindauer is a senior and Carson Lindauer is a sophomore − and Dawn Lindauer said her children appreciate what’s most important in life.

“There have been many days that I have questioned my parenting, times I’ve wondered if I had been too tough on them, if I’d instilled the correct values,” she said. “Life really isn’t all about basketball, is it? Are they compassionate? Today I can honestly say that I’m proud. I’m so very proud of who they are and what they stand for.”

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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