An Idaho man struggling to provide for his wife and their two adopted children after suffering an injury while working to complete their home was the subject of a Christmas miracle that came from the unlikeliest of sources: a team of journalists.
Brad and Erica Crow were surprised with health insurance for a year and $50,000 to go toward building their dream home by the eagle-eyed reporters of EastIdahoNews.com. The life-changing gift was part of the team's annual Secret Santa series, in which they surprise locals in need of help over the holiday season.
“We’re just taking it one day at a time and this is an awesome day,” Brad said through tears as he and his wife unwrapped the present.
When he was 14, Brad was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Since then, to fight the disease, Brad has undergone radiation, chemotherapy and had one leg removed and replaced with cadaver bone. “That was quite an ordeal,” he reflected.
Last summer, he and Erica decided they would build their dream home. They first built a workshop on the property with the hopes of staying in there temporarily as they finished construction.
But disaster struck, and Brad fractured his leg while building. The injury eventually progressed and he needed to have surgery to replace the bone. Even though he was recovering well, he developed a staph infection and began fighting for his life soon after.
Brad had that leg amputated this spring and a hip replaced shortly after, and is now facing another hip replacement. “I almost died a few times, it was pretty scary,” he said.
As a result of the medical complications and recovery time, Brad has been out of work for nearly a year-and-a-half, leaving the family in financial hardship despite Erica’s continued career as a school bus driver.
“I try to take as many trips as I can,” Erica said. “I tease him; he’s become kind of Mr. Mom.”
Knowing what a difficult time the family was facing, the Crows were nominated by Erica's sister to benefit from a surprise from the Secret Santa.
“It’s been a heck of a road, that’s for sure,” said Brad, a construction worker.
Through it all, the Crows say their positive attitude and faith in God has helped them continue fighting as a family.
“Just got to keep going,” Brad said. “Have faith everything is going to be okay. That’s all you can do.”
For the last four years, EastIdahoNews.com has given away money around the holidays to east Idaho locals in need, all sponsored by one anonymous community member. This year, the journalists were given a total of $500,000 to give away and choose their lucky recipients based on online nominations.