Many in the Baldwin community are familiar with Laney and Lilah Monicken. Those that are not would be fortunate to meet them. These twins have looked in the face of struggle with a contagious smile and laughed in times when others might cry. Their perseverance and positivity have made them the face of hope at the Children’s Miracle Network and Gillette Children’s Hospital and they are now attempting to give back to those organizations during the Run, Walk and Roll event.
“At 28 weeks, I went in for blood pressure issues and the doctors found that they had ‘Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS),” said Emily Monicken, the twins’ mom, “as soon as they found it I was in surgery within an hour.” There are five stages to TTTS, with stage five being death. Lilah and Laney were at stage four when their condition was discovered.
Born premature, the twins began experiencing other issues as they grew. “Shortly before they were one, they both had their cerebral palsy diagnoses,” Monicken said, “and at around age two, Lilah had her first seizure. We found out she has epilepsy.”
Despite their challenges, Lilah and Laney have yet to be brought down, fighting hard through therapy and always wearing a smile. “They’re really doing well,” Monicken said, “they go to therapy twice a week; physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. But they’re really happy girls.”
With such a contagious positive attitude, Gillette referred the twins to Children’s Miracle Network as ambassadors for the organization. “Speedway sponsors Children’s Miracle Network, so the girls’ are on a poster in every Speedway in Minnesota,” Monicken said. They’ve done several other photo shoots with Dairy Queen, and Gillette as well. Now Lilah and Laney are working to give back to Gillette in their upcoming event.
Gillette Children’s Run, Walk and Roll event is a 5K run and a 3K ‘family fun walk’ expected to gather 500 participants on June 8 in Como Park, St. Paul. Teams that are formed are able to take part in either event and raise money to buy sporting equipment especially suited for kids who have disabilities. Of course, Team Monicken Twins is taking their part.
“They started raising money with a lemonade stand on Mother’s Day,” said Monicken, “people were really helping out as much as they could. Some people didn’t even buy lemonade – they just donated.” Greenfield Elementary Principal J.R. Dachel added, “It was great. People were really helpful. Some were paying $20 dollars for their glass of lemonade. It was a cool thing to see.” Overall, the twins raised $320 dollars that day for their goal of $1000.
Lilah and Laney are continuing to raise money towards their goal for Gillette and the upcoming event on June 8. With the help Children’s Miracle Network, Gillette and the community, they can continue spreading their positivity and raise awareness for the important things in life.
“It obviously takes more than just me,” Monicken said, “It takes a community. And this community has always been so supportive of them.”