‘An incredible sharing of love’: Prairie du Sac man receives more than 50,000 Christmas cards

A Prairie du Sac man’s dying wish was to get as many Christmas cards as possible. Through the power of social media and the kindness in people’s hearts, Gene Weittenhiller received more than 50,000 cards so far and hundreds of gifts and packages.

Weittenhiller said one of the more emotional cards he read said, “I lost my husband Jerry, October 23, 2017. He died of stage four stomach cancer. He tried chemo but it made him weak. He was 65 years old. He died in three months at home with me. Can you say hi to my Jerry for me when you get to heaven?”

Weittenhiller’s wife, Linda Weittenhiller said her favorite part of watching all of this unfold has been seeing how far people have been sending cards from.

“This is from servicemen in Okinawa, Japan, Emerald Aisle, Switzerland, Ontario. We got quite a few things from Canada. Royal mail. We get a lot from the UK and Germany,” Linda Weittenhiller said.

Gene Weittenhiller said he’s received many care packages, gift baskets, and even “had four trees planted in national forests in my name. I had a young man who drew a portrait of me on his self-made card.”

When Gene and Linda Weittenhiller’s son, Ross Weittenhiller, first told News 3 Now about his father’s dying wish, he said he expected to get several hundred cards at most.

Ross Weittenhiller said he’s cried and laughed with his family as he helps read some of the cards and one of the most memorable ones was from a man in North Carolina.

“A man wrote and said he hasn’t spoken to his father in seven years,” Ross Weittenhiller said. “He saw this story, and he called his dad and said he talked to him for the first time.”

Linda and Gene Weittenhiller said they’ve read cards from people all over the country who saw the original story, and have since been inspired to do random acts of kindness for others.

Gene Weittenhiller called it: “An incredible sharing of love and happiness, thoughtfulness, kindness.”

On just one day last week, the Weittenhillers received 30,000 cards and 68 packages. Although it’s time consuming and an overwhelming amount of cards to get through, Linda Weittenhiller said she’s determiend to get through every single one.

“I don’t care if it takes months or even after Gene is gone, we will read every card,” she said.

This has become so much more than just a news story. It’s teaching people around the world about kindness, compassion, dealing with death, timeless love, and not taking anything for granted. I can’t wait to share this story with you tomorrow morning. #News3Now pic.twitter.com/o8fMQDeOsX

— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) December 19, 2019

On top of cards, the Weittenhillers have received numerous home visits from strangers who want to meet Gene Weittenhiller in person and hand-deliver cards and gifts.

“I almost feel selfish that somehow I’ve been singled out to get all these cards,” Gene Weittenhiller said. “I wish I could share them with everyone else that’s suffering from cancer.”

The family expressed their gratitude to everyone for their kindness and support. Linda Weittenhiller said this has helped her get through some sad times thinking about her husband’s limited time left.

“I’m at a loss for words,” she said. “I hate seeing him decline in this health. It is so hard having him being such a robust man and to see him decline in this way. It’s hard.”

Although Weittenhiller said he doesn’t know how much time he has left, he said, “I’m confident this is going to be my last Christmas. Most memorable? Yes.”

Weittenhiller said he’s getting weaker and it is becoming more difficult each day to stay up and read all the cards. He said he can only stay up in two hour increments before he has to lay down and rest.

Some nights, the family stays up until 2 a.m. reading cards.

Linda Weittenhiller said they are beginning to slow down reading the cards, so they can enjoy their final moments with Gene Weittenhiller.

Gene Weittenhiller said he wanted to leave people with one final message this holiday season:

“Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Take the time today to tell your loved ones you love them. Give them a hug. Don’t wait til tomorrow because tomorrow may never come.”

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