By Nat Eaton
The EastIdahoNews.com team is busy this holiday season helping a local man gift $1 million to deserving people in eastern Idaho. Secret Santa is a real person who wants to remain anonymous and hopes to bless as many individuals in our community as he can.
Erica has always been an ambitious, driven young lady. She went into nursing because she grew up watching a brother suffer with chronic health issues. She received her CNA license at 16, LPN two years ago and completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences last year.
This past year has been especially difficult for Erica’s family. Her husband, Broc, was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease at age 25 – the same week they discovered they were expecting their second child. This is a rare, hereditary, terminal disease. Broc’s father passed away from this disease at age 42 after being diagnosed in his early 30s.
Each child has a 50% chance of inheriting this disease. It’s often described as a combination of having ALS, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease simultaneously. It’s considered the worst neurological disease and causes a progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It’s often called the “Devil’s Disease.”
Broc’s six-year-old son, Gunnar, lives with his dad and Erica full time. He was diagnosed with Huntington’s over the summer and is in the middle stages. Juvenile Huntington’s is extremely rare and the younger symptoms begin, the more aggressive the disease is.
While Erica was expecting, Broc was no longer able to work or drive due to some of the neurological symptoms he was experiencing. He filed for disability and in March, when they could no longer afford to pay rent, they moved into her parents’ basement.
While Erica was recovering from a c-section with their 2-week old baby, the basement flooded from a neighborhood construction accident that mixed water with sewage. Their entire family was displaced and they stayed with Broc’s grandparents temporarily.
They recently moved into low-income housing but Erica is unable to work because she needs to care for her husband, son and two other children under two years old. They do not have a reliable car and will soon need a vehicle that is large enough for two wheelchairs.
Secret Santa asked the East Idaho News elves to pay Erica and her family a visit with some early Christmas gifts.