It was a very difficult year for Dakota, a single father who worked three part-time jobs, one of which was teaching at North Fremont High's Latter-day Saints Seminary.
On July 11, 2018, a tragic event upturned Dakota and Ream Nelson's entire lives. In their Ashton garage, the parents of seven children, ages 1 to 16, were working (but mostly goofing around). Dakota left the house to put some tools away, and when he returned five minutes later, he saw Ream, 38, laying on the ground. She wasn't breathing and was blue. “We were working in the garage, goofing around and having fun, and [I] came back and she just was dead on the ground basically,” Nelson told the East Idaho News at the time.
Dakota shouted to their 11-year-old to dial 911 as he started CPR right away. Ream was taken to the hospital in critical condition and battled for three months before dying on September 23. It was a very difficult year for Dakota, a single father who worked three part-time jobs, one of which was teaching at North Fremont High's Latter-day Saints Seminary. Dakota said, per his GoFundMe, “It is hard to accurately describe in words what it is like to have found my beautiful wife, whom I have fallen in love with and grown closer to in our 17 years of marriage on the floor, eyes open and unresponsive with our three-year-old standing over her. Having our children witness this is unthinkable.”
A nice samaritan offered the family something to be happy about while they were still mourning the loss. Dakota and his kids got a white gift package for Christmas. They had no idea that what was inside would leave them dumbfounded. A $1,000 in groceries and a $1,000 in Walmart gift cards were included in the box. But that was only the start. “Secret Santa asked we take him a $1,000 in gift cards, also $1,000 to another store and an $8,000 check,” Nate Eaton said, in a video recording of the moment they surprised Nelson.
The part-time seminary instructor for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was overcome with appreciation to the point where he was unable to speak. As a result of the video's global success, donations to their GoFundMe skyrocketed and came from all around the world. Nelson expressed gratitude for the generosity of strangers and said he would make good use of the Secret Santa funds.
The family was overjoyed with the Christmas miracle, and the startled widower expressed his gratitude in a letter to Secret Santa. The beautiful letter ended on a hopeful note. "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," he wrote, per East Idaho News.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe