Forget toys and video games. When Wyatt Erber won $1,000, the Illinois third-grader knew exactly what he wanted to do with the money.
The 8-year-old gave his winnings to the family of his young neighbor, 2-year-old Cara Kielty, who is battling leukemia. "He was really aware of what cancer is," said Wyatt's mom, Noelle Erber. "When he found out Cara had cancer, his heart sank."
One week after the Cara Kielty was diagnosed, Noelle Erber asked her son if he'd like to enter a scavenger hunt sponsored by a local bank. The grand prize was $1,000.
"Wyatt immediately said, 'Let's do it, and if I win the $1,000, I want to give it to Cara,'" Erber said. "The idea of being able to give a thousand dollars wowed him." Winning seemed like a longshot, but Wyatt was determined to win the money for Cara, Erber said.
Together they visited businesses in their hometown of Edwardsville, gradually collecting the 20 clues needed to complete the scavenger hunt. When they found out they had been the first team to turn in all the clues, Wyatt called Cara's mother, Trisha Kielty.
"I knew he was wanting to do it for Cara, which is the sweetest thing ever," she said. "But an 8-year-old giving adults money? I tried to protest to his mom. Then she told me he asked how much chemo this would buy Cara. He gets it."
The Kieltys, who have been close friends of the Erbers since they moved to their street five years ago, decided to accept the money and "focus on the fact Wyatt is such a gracious kid," Trisha Kielty said.
Cara has always taken a shine to Wyatt, who is frequently over playing with her 8-year-old brother, Connor. "She grins ear-to-ear whenever Wyatt walks through the door," Kielty said.
The third-grader's act of generosity did not go unnoticed. A local charity matched his gift to the Kieltys. A man in Canada heard about the story and sent a letter praising Wyatt, along with $100 to give to the Kielty's for Cara's treatment.
Wyatt's mother said she couldn't be more proud of her son. "He's always been a very sweet boy," she said. "I'm very lucky to call him my son."