After losing 5 children, Rexburg family donates van to local father battling ALS
UCON — When Ruth and Rick Clark saw the story of Wyatt and Mindy Rees on EastIdahoNews.com, they knew they had to do something.
Wyatt, a 33-year-old father of four children under seven, was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year. He is confined to a wheelchair and can no longer speak, eat, swallow or move his muscles. Mindy has been caring for him full-time while the couple lives off their savings account and long-term disability.
An anonymous Secret Santa heard about the Rees’ situation and asked the EastIdahoNews.com team to surprise them with a $10,000 check.
Wyatt has been unable to go to medical appointments or leave the home because the family does not have a wheelchair accessible van.
The Clarks, who live in Rexburg, are all too familiar with similar health challenges.
All five of their children were born with muscular dystrophy, and they have all died over the past 15 years. Their children lived most of their lives in wheelchairs, so the Clarks know what it’s like to need reliable transportation.
“Our last son, Russell, died in September,” Ruth Clark tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We had listed the van for sale and somebody was supposed to come look at it Wednesday. But I saw your story, and something told me, ‘You know what to do with that van.’”
Ruth showed her husband, Rick, the video clip and, without prompting him, he looked at her and said, “We need to give them that van.”
The Clarks had planned to use proceeds from the van to buy Christmas gifts for their grandchildren, so they were a little worried the holiday would not be the same this year.
“We told the kids what we planned to do, and our oldest said, ‘Grandma, it’s better to give. We don’t need presents,’” Ruth recalls.
Ruth contacted Mindy, and on Thursday night, the Clarks dropped the van off at the young couple’s home.
“I was just blown away. She gave me the title, and it said zero dollars,” Mindy says. “She told me it’s a gift and that it was meant for us. We just cried.”
The van should fit a new customized wheelchair Wyatt will get this month. He’ll then be able to leave the house for appointments and other outings.
“The Clarks showed me how to use it, gave us the contact information for who works on it and told us to call them if we had any questions,” Mindy says. “It’s just amazing.”
Ruth Clark, who did not want publicity about their donation and was hesitant to speak to EastIdahoNews.com, says she admires Wyatt and Mindy’s courage during adversity.
“They are so strong. We’ve had so many people be so good to us, and I just wanted to do something for them,” Ruth says.
After hearing the Clarks’ story, Mindy says she told Wyatt they need to count their blessings because “things could be a lot worse, and we have nothing to complain about.”
In a blog post, she wrote:
Have you ever felt like you could be best friends with a stranger? Well friends, it’s possible. It just happened to us last night. They saw our story and knew how they could help. They gave us a van they no longer need. It has a lift, all we have to do now is get in and go.
This couple now is a forever friend. I look up to them and the struggles they have faced. If this strong couple can endure everything they have been through, there is no reason why Wyatt and I can’t. Exchanging hugs with them turned a stranger into more than what any amount of money could buy. We love you, Clark family!