Cassie Gretschel and her little brother, Max, have a wonderful Christmas tradition.

All photos by Cassie Gretschel used with permission

Gretschel says Max, who is 25, has severe mental and physical disabilities, including Cerebral Palsy and scoliosis. She writes that his brain development is on par with a 5-year-old, and that he has impaired vision and spends most of his time in a wheelchair.


And there's only one thing Max wants for Christmas — the same thing he asks for every year: A police Hummer Tonka truck. In blue.

"Max thinks that the Tonka Police Hummer is the holy grail of all toys," Gretschel says in an email. "It's not too loud, it lights up, it's big without being too big and it goes forwards and backwards slowly with the flip of a lever. It also has a winch and hook that wind and unwind with a lever. For someone visually and mobily [sic] impaired, it's fun and very simple to operate."

Gretschel and her family have given Max a new version of the same truck every year since it first came out in 2000. There's just one problem — the toy has since been discontinued, and Max's family had already gathered up all the models they could find on eBay and other internet auction sites.

That meant Max was at risk of facing his first Christmas in 17 years without a new truck for collection.

The red ones just aren't the same, according to Max.

Desperate, Gretschel posted her story to Reddit, along with a request.

"I figured that maybe a couple redditors might have had the truck as a kid and would be willing to sell them to me for some extra Christmas cash," she says.

In her post, she describes Max's love for the truck and ends with a reasonable call-to-action: "If anyone has one of these in their attics, please throw it on eBay!"

The internet community, however, was about to do her one better.

Gretschel woke up the next day to discover that her post had gone massively viral. She says her inbox was flooded with notes from people who wanted to help.

The generous offers poured in from around the globe offered, as redditors offered not just to give Max the Hummer toy he wanted, but to take him on a ride in a real Hummer. Others wanted to donate Amazon gift cards so Cassie could buy him something else.

Still more felt the urge to share their support and love for Gretschel on her quest to bring her little brother some joy.

As her story continued to spread, Cassie finally got an answer to her obscure and unlikely request: As of this writing, she says she has received six of the trucks from redditors — including one still in its box.

Tonka themselves even got involved after being overwhelmed with messages, and while they haven't tracked down any blue hummers just yet, they have offered to repaint a red one for Max and send it along.

They're even looking into getting new blue ones manufactured so the tradition never has to end. (But the Grestchel's better stock up — Cassie tells Buzzfeed that Max likes to get a new truck on his birthday, too.)

**UPDATE** Thank you all so much for your help! We have been able to contact the author and are making...

Posted by Tonka on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The way thousands of strangers on the internet came through for Max is a true holiday miracle.

Even though it's great to hear about how all the Tonka trucks for Max to enjoy, the mere fact that so many strangers came together to give someone they've never met a great holiday surprise might be the most inspiring part of the whole story.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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