Young father of 7, whose wife passed away, was left speechless during Secret Santa surprise

Dakota and Ream Nelson enjoyed a lovely romance based on shared values and beliefs. They were the delighted parents of seven children and liked building memories with their children.

Ream was a volleyball fan, and her soulmate and husband worked part-time for their local church; together, they built a life filled with dedication. But everything they knew changed in an instant.

Nobody could have imagined that an unexpected event on July 11, 2018, would forever alter the Nelson family’s lives. The mother of seven, described as a caring and loving mother by her sister, slumped in their garage.

Dakota had just been outdoors for five minutes when he discovered his 38-year-old wife near death. The father, who instantly ordered their 11-year-old to contact 911, detailed the harrowing experience:

“We were just messing around in the garage, having a good time.” When I returned, she was essentially dead on the ground. “We were able to recover her sufficiently that she remained in a coma until the end of September.”

Ream was in terrible condition when she arrived at the hospital, and she remained in a coma for three months before passing away.

Ream’s loved ones were forced to pick up the pieces after the awful incident. Dakota was afraid of the future since he had to work three jobs to support his children.

During the Christmas holidays in 2018, Dakota and his kids opened a white gift box. They thought that what was inside would leave them speechless.

Ream didn’t have health insurance, and the costs of her hospital stay were exorbitant. Thankfully, a GoFundMe page relieved some of Dakota’s concerns, and generous donors contributed almost $60,000 to help them.

However, an even greater miracle was on the way! After his wife died, the seminary teacher at North Fremont High School had various hardships, but he had many reasons to be grateful.

A Secret Santa in their East Idaho town learned of the family’s plight, and soon a bunch of elves arrived with a life-changing gift for Dakota and his children.

Dakota and his children received a white gift box over the Christmas holidays in 2018, unaware that the contents would leave them speechless. The box had $1,000 in food and $1,000 in Walmart gift cards. But it was only the start.

Dakota was moved to tears as her father was presented with an $8,000 check. He brushed his tears away and fought to find the right words, ultimately saying, “Who should I thank?”

While the family was still mourning their mother’s death, they found reason to grin due to their Secret Santa. The startled widower expressed his thanks in a letter to Secret Santa:

“It’s difficult for me to write this since I’m at a loss for words. There are no words to express how appreciative we are of this compassion… “I just cannot express how grateful we are.”

The children also expressed gratitude to Santa for making this their greatest Christmas ever. They had no idea they could be joyful following their mother’s death, but the present they got gave them fresh hope and joy.


It is never easy to lose a loved one. Dakota and his children will never forget Ream’s terrible death.

They were able to recuperate, though, owing to the goodwill of strangers. We hope that God gives them the strength to persevere. RIP, angelic wife and mother.

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