When a man lost the love of his life and the mother of his children, he was devastated. Being a single parent to seven kids wasn't easy, but what he didn't know at the time was that things were about to change for him and his family.
Going through challenging times can be daunting, but having a loved one's support might help ease things. But imagine the agony of losing a beloved and silently battling the unbearable trauma, all the while staying strong for your loved ones.
Something similar unfolded for a man when an unspeakable tragedy turned his world upside down. However, he knew he had a family to take care of, so he decided to draw strength from his pain.
[Left] Dakota Nelson breaks down while holding one of his kids; [Right] A few of his children open the gift boxes sent by Secret Santa. | Source: youtube.com/Inside Edition
Dakota and Ream Nelson were happily married and lived in Ashton, Idaho. Dakota was a part-time seminary and Sunday school teacher in his church, while Ream loved coaching her Volleyball girls in addition to being a mother.
They were blessed with seven children, the center of their universe. According to Ream's baby sister, Summer Alameel, the couple was a match made in heaven. Ream was known for her joyful spirit and deep affection for her family.
The Nelsons were leading a content life when something unimaginable happened. On Wednesday, July 11, 2018, the family experienced a nightmare, and everything changed for them in mere seconds.
Dakota Nelson with his seven children. | Source: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
AN UNSPEAKABLE TRAGEDY
The couple was working in their garage when Dakota left to put some tools in a shop 30 feet away. He was gone for less than five minutes and saw Ream lying on the floor, looking blue and not breathing.
In the meantime, check out another story where Secret Santa handed $195 gift cards and letters of hope to 400 families.
Their three-year-old boy kept talking to Ream because her eyes were wide open, and he thought she could hear him. Dakota picked up his toddler son and calmed him down. Then, he performed CPR on his wife, but nothing seemed to help.
Dakota and Ream Nelson. | Source: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
SURVIVING THE ORDEAL
Dakota called out to his 12-year-old, who put on a show so the other children wouldn't sense something was wrong. An unconscious Ream was taken to a hospital in Idaho Falls, where the doctors explained she had suffered a major heart attack.
It turned out Ream's brain was without oxygen for more than 20 minutes, which led to massive bleeding and severe brain damage. She became stable and spent some time in a coma, but her critical condition worried her children and beloved husband.
The doctors made no promises regarding Ream's complete recovery but shared they were hopeful she might survive due to her youth. They added that Ream's coma might last for three to six months, during which time she would be transferred to an intensive care facility.
Dakota Nelson pictured while holding his child. | Source: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
THE HARDEST GOODBYE
Ream's condition took an emotional toll on the Nelson family. Idaho's health crisis increased the financial stress because Ream and Dakota were uninsured. Dakota didn't qualify for Medicaid benefits despite working three jobs to support his family.
Consequently, Ream's sister, Alameel, started a GoFundMe fundraiser on July 19, 2018, to support the Nelsons. Sadly, Ream passed away on September 30, 2018, surrounded by her family.
Losing his soulmate shattered Dakota. He had to deal with his pain and look after his kids as a single parent. The mourning widower had still not entirely accepted that his 38-year-old wife was no more.
Dakota pictured with his children in the driveway drenched in snow. | Source: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
A SURPRISE VISIT
In December 2018, Dakota returned from work when a stranger greeted him in the driveway. Surprisingly, Nate Eaton from East Idaho News had come to deliver goodies to the Nelson family on Secret Santa's behalf.
The grieving widower was moved to tears when Eaton handed him an $8,000 check and gave his children boxes containing gift cards worth $2,000. He was overwhelmed by Secret Santa's kindness and said he planned to put the money to good use.
The Nelson family didn't have a large enough vehicle to accommodate everyone, so Dakota drove one car (which he had received after Reem's demise), and his 16-year-old son drove another. The father of seven also sent a touching letter to Secret Santa.
Dakota's children pictured while opening the gift boxes. | Source: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
THANK YOU, SECRET SANTA
Dakota expressed heartfelt gratitude to his anonymous benefactor for his sweet gesture. He mentioned how the kindness he received amidst his family's ordeal enabled him to feel less pain and be more grateful. Dakota also wrote:
"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."
Dakota also thanked Secret Santa for making Christmas unique for his children and being a source of light in their otherwise dark world. His children, 12-year-old Micaiah and 16-year-old Ammon, also included their thoughts in the note.
Numerous media outlets captured and shared the Nelson family's incredible reaction, racking up millions of views. Like Dakota, we're also speechless and amazed by this genuinely heartwarming random act of kindness.
If this story touched your heart, remember to share it with your loved ones. In the meantime, check out another story where Secret Santa handed $195 gift cards and letters of hope to 400 families. Click here to read the whole story.
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