Thirty-five-year-old Jenny Olson lost her battle with cancer in January. But it is what happened in the days leading up to her death that is the reason for a special gathering today.
Jenny's husband Brian had feared what happened that fateful January day. "My worst nightmare ever since Jenny got diagnosed with cancer was to have something happen to her and the kids at home alone. And that's what happened."
January 25th started like any normal day. Despite an ongoing round of chemo, Jenny was feeling pretty good and looking forward to a "mom" day with 5-year-old son Ben and 8-year-old daughter Elise.
"The kids had off school that day and I teach in another district and we had school. And it was a normal day. She was feeling very well. We figure at about 9:45 in the morning, Jenny must not have been feeling well. She was in the bathroom. And she must have known something wasn't right because she sat down on the floor of the bathroom. And shortly after that her heart must have stopped. And that's when the kids kicked into action."
Ben was with Jenny in the bathroom. "He said Elise come in here quick we need your help. And she came in and Ben said, 'I think she's dying. Elise got on her boots and coat and headed out the door to the next door neighbor. She's trained in cardiac care."
Neighbor Kari Lazarescu remembers vividly the knock on her door. "When I turned around I saw Elise's tiny little face through the window and saw tears and knew it wasn't going to be good. She said my mommy fell and she can't get up and I threw my boots on and ran over there."
Ben still was with Jenny in the bathroom when they came back. "He kept saying, 'what can I do to help?'"
Kari sent Ben to get the phone to call 911 while she began performing CPR. "They were so calm. They were amazing. They did everything I asked them to do."
Ben and Elise then went outside to help flag down the rescue crews when they arrived. "We never practiced this. They just knew what to do. They were amazing."
Emergency responders were able to get Jenny's heart beating again but sadly she passed away the following day.
"I think it's important to let Ben and Elise know that they did everything they could do do help save their mom," says Lazarescu. "It was amazing."
And the Holmen fire department agreed. "To stay calm and resilient and to actually assist, they performed very, very well," says Holmen Fire Chief Douglas Schober.
"We'll always remember them and hold them dear to our hearts. Today we would like to give you both an award in recognition for assisting us and 911 in that troublesome time. We also have a medal for you and on the back it says you are an honorary first responder with us. Thank you very much and we are very sorry for your loss."
Brian Olson had feared the worst. Turns out the worst brought out the best in Jenny's heroes. "They make me so proud. And I know they would make Jenny so proud with the actions that they did that day."
The Holmen Fire Department hopes this becomes a lesson for all of us to talk to our kids about what to do in emergency situations.