After losing 5 children, family donates van to young father battling ALS

When Ruth and Rick Clark saw the story of Wyatt and Mindy Rees on EastIdahoNews.com, they knew they had to do somethi...

Posted: Dec 9, 2017 3:20 PM
Updated: Dec 9, 2017 3:20 PM

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!

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 39133

Reported Deaths: 1514
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12597787
Ramsey4963229
Dakota242192
Stearns241419
Anoka2266109
Nobles16726
Olmsted114715
Washington113740
Mower9602
Rice8488
Scott7624
Clay59138
Kandiyohi5781
Blue Earth4942
Wright4835
Todd4012
Carver3951
Lyon3272
Sherburne3255
Freeborn2970
Watonwan2380
Steele2371
Benton2203
St. Louis19615
Nicollet17312
Martin1715
Cottonwood1360
Goodhue1318
Winona12915
Crow Wing10812
Le Sueur1081
Pine1070
Chisago1021
Otter Tail1001
McLeod920
Dodge880
Carlton870
Unassigned8537
Polk822
Chippewa791
Isanti750
Waseca710
Douglas650
Murray650
Itasca6412
Meeker611
Morrison611
Faribault600
Pipestone592
Becker570
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington520
Renville362
Beltrami340
Brown342
Mille Lacs342
Wabasha330
Rock310
Fillmore300
Yellow Medicine300
Houston270
Swift221
Wilkin213
Norman200
Redwood190
Koochiching181
Grant170
Roseau170
Cass162
Aitkin150
Big Stone150
Kanabec151
Wadena150
Marshall120
Pope120
Lincoln100
Mahnomen101
Clearwater90
Hubbard80
Lake60
Stevens50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32064

Reported Deaths: 731
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6739181
Woodbury326044
Black Hawk232358
Buena Vista171911
Johnson13408
Linn130482
Dallas129129
Marshall106019
Scott84510
Story8063
Pottawattamie74512
Dubuque74222
Wapello70830
Crawford6783
Muscatine64944
Sioux4810
Tama46829
Wright3851
Louisa36313
Jasper32517
Plymouth3245
Warren2911
Dickinson2663
Webster2484
Washington2459
Cerro Gordo1901
Hamilton1891
Boone1501
Clay1370
Allamakee1334
Clarke1333
Mahaska11717
Shelby1170
Clinton1131
Poweshiek1078
Carroll991
Pocahontas981
Bremer957
Franklin950
Des Moines912
Emmet870
Henry863
Cedar851
Hardin810
Taylor800
Monona770
Cherokee761
Floyd732
Marion710
Benton681
Guthrie684
Jones640
Sac640
Jefferson620
Osceola620
Buchanan601
Butler592
Hancock551
Humboldt551
Calhoun542
Harrison540
Lee542
Iowa530
Delaware511
Monroe517
Fayette500
Madison482
Lyon450
Clayton443
Davis411
Mitchell410
Palo Alto410
Grundy400
Mills390
Winneshiek390
Kossuth360
Howard340
Jackson340
Union340
Lucas314
Chickasaw290
Greene290
Winnebago290
Cass240
Ida230
Appanoose213
Keokuk211
Van Buren210
Page200
Worth200
Adair160
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Ringgold150
Decatur120
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont80
Rochester
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 86°
Mason City
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 86°
Albert Lea
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Austin
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 88°
Charles City
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 86°
Heat Advisory in effect until 7pm
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's 6pm Weather 7/8

Image

Bishop writes to ask for clemency for Dustin Honken

Image

Catch a ride to stay cool

Image

Free masks in Rochester

Image

Boys & Girls Club back open

Image

Rochester Elementary School releases plans

Image

Working in the heat

Image

Potential job cuts for Austin city employees

Image

Free memory screenings being offered during pandemic

Image

1K Mile March: Alabama to Minneapolis

Community Events