Widower with 7 Kids in Tears After He's Handed $10,000 from Anonymous Donor


Tragedy can strike at the most unexpected of times, and it’s often impossible to know whether certain words, hugs and actions will be someone’s last.

One minute Ream and Dakota Nelson were cleaning out their garage, and the next minute Ream suffered a massive, unexpected heart attack.

Her husband, Dakota, had left the garage to put something away and was only gone for about five minutes, but the scene he came back to was devestating.

“It is hard to accurately describe in words what it is like to have found my beautiful wife, whom I have fallen in love with and grown closer to in our 17 years of marriage on the floor, eyes open and unresponsive with our three-year-old standing over her,” he said, according to the family’s GoFundMe page. “Having our children witness this is unthinkable.”

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Dakota performed CPR while the couple’s 11-year-old called 911, but by the time Ream received medical assistance, they determined her brain had been deprived of oxygen for around 20 minutes.

Ream’s brain was bleeding, and the brain damage that had been done was irreversible. The doctors were dumbfounded and couldn’t find a cause for the 38-year-old’s condition.

She was put on life support, but despite everyone’s best efforts, she passed away in September, leaving her husband and children to pick up the pieces.

“On behalf of the family: It is with the heaviest of hearts and deepest sadness that we inform you that Ream Nelson passed away September 23rd, 2018 at 3:45 pm,” Ream’s sister Summer Alameel wrote on the family’s GoFundMe page.

“She left this life surrounded by her husband, children, Mother, Mother-in-law and siblings. We cannot choose how we go, but she went peacefully surrounded by the people who loved her most in this world, and for that we are thankful.”

“We will be holding a memorial service but do not have details at this time, we will share them as they become available.”

“Her children and Dakota are holding up remarkably – bolstered by their faith and the support of their community. Thank you all for the well wishes and condolences. Many people have been asking what they can do and we so appreciate you.”

Dakota is a part-time seminary instructor and makes ends meet with other part-time work. The couple had seven children, the youngest only a year old and the oldest 16.

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Friends and family have pitched in to help, but the family’s story caught someone else’s eye, too. East Idaho News is giving out $250,000, thanks to a very generous Secret Santa.

This charitable donor reviews stories and selects recipients, and then East Idaho News gets the wonderful task of surprising the individuals hand-selected by the anonymous giver.

On one particular day, they got to bless the Reams with $10,000.

As Dakota realized what he’d been given, he had no words. He embraced Nate Eaton, the reporter who broke the news to him, and accepted the generous gift.

Hopefully with this gift, the family will be able to celebrate a little more and worry a little less this Christmas, enjoying each other’s company and remembering the woman who meant the world to them.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking