Secret Santa surprises young father of 4 battling ALS with a life-changing gift - East Idaho News
Secret Santa

Secret Santa surprises young father of 4 battling ALS with a life-changing gift

  Published at  | Updated at

A Secret Santa has asked to help him give away $200,000 to deserving people and families living in east Idaho. From now until Christmas, Santa’s “elves” will be delivering surprises to many in our community. Some of the deliveries will be recorded – many will not. If you’d like to nominate someone for a Secret Santa surprise, click here.

Wyatt Rees was a popular LDS seminary teacher in Bonneville Joint School District 93. During his high school years, he played football and after graduation continued to stay active.

single pic 1
Wyatt Rees was a high school football player and taught seminary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. | Courtesy photo

He and his wife, Mindy, are the parents of four children – ages, 7, 5, 2 and 4 months.

In 2014, at age 29, Wyatt started to lose feeling in one of his arms. After multiple doctor visits spanning three years, Wyatt and Mindy ended up at the Mayo Clinic in August 2017 where he was diagnosed with ALS the day before his 33rd birthday.

young couple
Wyatt and Mindy Rees in happier times. | Courtesy photo

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Wyatt’s muscles are wasting away and he is now confined to a wheelchair. He can no longer walk, talk, stand, eat or swallow. He is being fed by a tube directly into his stomach and he obviously can not work to support his family or pay the bills.

WATCH | Mother sobs when her neighbors and Lexi Walker show up to help Secret Santa

WATCH | Childhood medication ruined his teeth. Now Secret Santa is giving this man his smile back

The Rees family is living off their savings account as Mindy cares for her husband and four children.

rees family
The Rees family |
crying dad
Wyatt Rees became very emotional when the team showed up with a gift from Secret Santa. |

“It’s been a long struggle with a lot of uncertainty as the family has had to figure out what was happening and how to handle the new reality that Wyatt wasn’t going to get better,” a close friend told when nominating the Rees family for the Secret Santa project. “Mindy is a strong and happy person. She loves Wyatt and her family very much. They have four small children who could really use some extra care and love this Christmas. Mindy and Wyatt just celebrated their 11th anniversary and could also really use some happy times together.”

Secret Santa wanted to provide one of those “happy times” so he sent his elves over to the Rees household with a surprise.

You can read more about their story from Mindy’s blog:


Wyatt and Mindy Rees sent the following statement following their Secret Santa surprise:

We are so thankful for the Secret Santa gift and the outpouring of love we have received from everyone over the past few days. We have been truly blessed. Wyatt’s job has supported him since his diagnosis and the doctors have been incredible. There are so many more people deserving of financial assistance this Christmas and we would encourage anyone who wishes to donate money to us to look for someone else in need. We hope to pay this kindness forward one day and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

watch Secret Santa videos