‘This is NOT our ending.’ Wyatt Rees dies peacefully at age 35 after battle with ALS
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UCON — After battling Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for over five years, Wyatt Rees took his final breath Monday and passed away at home holding his wife, Mindy’s, hand. He was 35.
Wyatt and Mindy became known worldwide after an anonymous Secret Santa asked the EastIdahoNews.com team to surprise them with a $10,000 check in December 2017. Mindy launched a blog and Facebook page called ‘Hope on the Horizon’ where she openly discussed her experiences caring for someone with ALS and shared her family’s journey with the public.
Mindy announced Wyatt’s death Monday night in a Facebook post.
“Today was our day. Today, Wyatt did not give up. He didn’t lose. But on December 30, 2019, I held his hand and cheered him on to cross the finish line,” she wrote. ” He didn’t want to go. He wanted to stay, even if that meant being broken and bed bound. He and I both know, this is NOT our ending. Wyatt’s legacy will live on. He will not be forgotten.”
Read Wyatt’s obituary here.
Mindy and Wyatt have four young children. He was a seminary instructor with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until he was no longer able to teach. Wyatt began showing symptoms of ALS at age 29 and was officially diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic the day before his 33rd birthday.
ALS is a disorder that affects the function of nerves and muscles. It is estimated that as many as 16,000 people have the disease at any given time, according to the ALS Association. Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70. There is no cure and only twenty percent of those with the disease live five years or more.
Less than two weeks before Wyatt’s death, the musical group GENTRI made a surprise visit to his home and sang some Christmas carols. Through a speech machine controlled with his eyes, Wyatt thanked the group and when told how inspiring he is, he replied, “I’m just a man.”
Funeral details are pending and Mindy invites everyone to attend.
“Honestly I would love for anyone who has followed our journey to come and give me a hug,” she tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Mindy says Wyatt’s passing was “beautiful” and is taking comfort in her faith that she will see him again.
“Today was peace. Today was love. Today was proof in a loving Heavenly Father who has heard and answered my prayers. Today was a victory. Today, I held his hand and never left his side. Today, Wyatt won,” she wrote. “I’ve been his biggest cheerleader and never left his side during this ugly disease. And I’m humbled to say, ‘Wyatt! WE did it!’ Wyatt passing away from ALS was the plan all along. I’m honored to be married to a man that needed to be called home.”