Dakota Nelson’s entire life changed on July 11, 2018. His soulmate, love of his life, and mother of their 7 children suddenly collapsed.
Dakota and Ream Nelson were cleaning up their family garage when Dakota went outside to put some tools away. When he returned just five minutes later, the mother of children ages 1-16, was lying on the ground with her eyes wide open and she had turned blue.
Dakota immediately started doing CPR on his 38-year-old wife and called out to their 11-year-old to call 911. Unconscious, Ream was rushed to the emergency room at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. The doctors informed Dakota that Ream’s brain had been without oxygen for over 20 minutes. Her heart had suddenly stopped.
Three months later, after being in a coma in ICU, Ream passed away on September 30th.
The guilt-stricken husband was now left with the entire weight of the world on his shoulders. As a newly single parent, he was working three part-time jobs, including one as a Sunday school teacher at North Fremont High School to help make ends meet in an extremely tough time.
Once word got out about the tragedy in their neighborhood, EastIdahoNews.com knew they had to do something for the grieving family. So, they surprised Dakota with a massive Secret Santa present as he was leaving work.
With his kids by his side, the family was handed a box – inside was an $8,000 check and gift cards that amounted to $2,000.
Needless to say, Dakota was completely overwhelmed with emotion. With tears in his eyes and words barely coming out of his mouth, he couldn’t believe that total strangers would want to reach out and help a family they didn’t know.
The Nelson family didn’t have a car that was big enough to transport all of their family members, so Dakota knew that the money would go to buy a vehicle that could fit them all.
In addition to the incredible secret, anonymous donation of money that the family received, they’ve had a GoFundMe account set up to help them as well.
Since the account was started, the family has received donations up to nearly $57,000 of their $250,000 goal. And even though Ream has been gone for over a year now, the love and donations just keep flooding in. It was going to be a difficult time for the family, as can be expected, but the support has kept them strong.
After receiving the incredible gifts and anonymous donations, Dakota, along with his two eldest children, penned a letter to the people involved in the Secret Santa donation. It reads:
“It is hard to write this as I am at a total loss of words. There is no way for me to accurately convey how grateful we are for this kindness. As I was surprised with the gifts, I looked at my kids – who will remember this event forever as the best time they had in a hard time. Thank you for being an example to my family on how to look out for the needs of others.
I have noticed that through this ordeal, we have been blessed to see kindness replace the pain of losing a loved one whom I had been married to for 17 years. My children have noted this and have stated that they want to do the same for others.
Thank you again for making this Christmas special.
Again, I just cannot convey how thankful we are but let me provide you with a few more details of the story.
On July 11, we had been cleaning out the garage together and I left to put some tools in the shop 30 feet away while Ream swept the floor. I had been gone less then 5 minutes and saw her lying on her back with eyes wide open. My 3-year-old was standing over her talking as he thought she could hear him due to her eyes being open.
I ran and cradled her in my arms and blew into her mouth thinking she choked on something. I then started CPR and my 8-year-old walked out and started screaming. I told him to leave and my 12-year-old walked in the garage and, seeing the situation, called 911 and put on a show so the other kids would not go out to see her. He then went down to the end of the street to waive down the ambulance.
After two and a half weeks at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in ICU, she was moved to long-term care and we watched her pass away on Sept. 30 with all of her 7 kids gathered around. Her body had become septic and she had no hope of recovery. I wanted her to pull out of it so badly but it was not to be.
I know no one makes it through life without some sort of event that is strenuous to the soul but I had not realized how much one can be happy even when the light is out and it is dark. Thank you for being that light.
I have asked my two oldest kids, 12-year-old Micaiah and 16-year-old Ammon, to include their thoughts:
Thank you so much for all joy you brought to us. I had basketball that day but when my brother told me we were on the news, I was pretty confused. Then when my dad showed me the video I was holding back tears. Everyone I told they were crying and stuff like that. This will probably be my best Christmas ever. Thanks again I wish you a Merry Christmas.( :\ From: Micaiah
I want you guys to understand how much this meant to my family and how happy we are for this gift. It is so special to know that even our family in a small little town is being helped this Christmas season and so are countless others. Thank you so much. I can not even begin to tell you how grateful my family is.
It’s always incredible to see so much light when all you expect is darkness. There truly are some amazing people in the world.
If you’d like to donate to the family’s GoFundMe account, you can do so here. Watch Dakota and his family receive the Secret Santa gift in the video below.
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