WINFIELD—If you’re just passing through, you might not even notice this tiny Alabamian town. But the people here are great.

I once had a friend from Winfield. Every time we saw each other he gave me a gift, without fail. I once asked why he did this.

He shrugged and said, “‘Cause that’s just how people from Winfield are.”

Which isn’t hard to believe. The town is roughly twenty-five miles from the Mississippi line, and about as wide as it is high. Let’s just say that if you took the population of Winfield and crammed them into a football stadium, you’d fill up one row. Maybe two.

The downtown is nice and maintained. You could pitch a baseball from one end to the other.

A few months ago, Winfield celebrated Mule Day Festival, an annual tradition. A mass of jack Mules parade up the streets towing wagons, getting showered with affection.

The festival started as a downhome parade. Today, it draws nearly 25,000 people from across the southeast who come to honor the American Mule.

“Mule Day’s great,” says one old man. “Lotta people forget, but our nation was built by a lotta purebred jackasses.”

He laughs at this. Because like my pal once said, that’s just how people in Winfield are.

Well, yesterday afternoon the good people of Winfield were lining the quiet streets. They had gathered to see a different kind of parade. Some held banners or balloons. Others were bundled to fight the chill. Everyone was there.

They were waiting for Wyatt.

Wyatt Spann is four years old. Last year, he was your typical toddler. He loved dinosaurs, cartoons, and especially trucks. Then he took ill. When he wouldn’t quit vomiting his parents took him to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

His mother said, “We thought he had a stomach virus that had been going around.”

That’s what doctors thought too. But the blood work came back normal. So they gave Wyatt some fluids, a pat on the rump, and sent him on his way. But right before Wyatt left the exam room the doctor noticed something.

“We were about to be discharged,” Wyatt’s mother went on, “when the doctor noticed his right eye turn inward toward his nose for just a second. He asked us if it had done that before and we said no.”

Then all hell broke loose.

There was a tumor on Wyatt’s brain the size of a golf ball. It had leaked down his spine. The next morning, Wyatt underwent six hours of surgery. Doctors removed the mass on his brain stem. Next, he had to have a shunt placed into his head to regulate pressure in his brain.

For six weeks Wyatt’s family lived in the pediatric ICU. Six weeks of sleeping in the seated position and surviving on crummy hospital Jello. And that was just the beginning.

Since then it’s been the systematic nightmare that cancer promises. And then some. Chemo, radiation, MRIs, tests out the wazoo. Too many treatments to name here.

But that’s not what this story is about. This is a tale about Winfield.

One man remarks, “People from all over Winfield, the county, maybe even the world have prayed for and reached out to Wyatt’s family.”

He’s right. The town has been pulling together tighter than three-ply carpet ever since his diagnosis. And in Alabama, news tends to spread faster than the Bangkok flu. It wasn’t long before people in nearby counties, states, regions, and all over the world were praying for Wyatt Spann.

There were fundraisers, donations, casseroles, baskets, gift cards, toys, the works. The people in Winfield might not be many, but they are loud.

Then. More bad news. Wyatt’s most recent MRI came back. The cancer has taken over his brain. Hard times are ahead. Doctors told Wyatt’s parents that he might only have a few weeks left to live.

Tuesday, they released him from Saint Jude’s Hospital in Memphis and sent him home. It was a crushing blow. Wyatt’s ambulance left Tennessee around 3.P.M. to bring him to Alabama. And everyone was waiting.

It was your average January day in Winfield. Cool. Clear. The late afternoon shadows covered the downtown shops. The sunset hit a distant steeple. People were standing on curbs, rubbing hands together to stay warm. Banners held high.

“Here he comes!” said one person.

The first vehicle came into view with flashing lights. People on the street pointed toward Wyatt’s ambulance.

“There he is!”

“It’s Wyatt!”

And that’s when everyone saw it. The motorcade escort of the century. Vehicles upon vehicles. Upon vehicles.

Upon vehicles.

“You could hear it rumble from a mile away,” says one lady. “Like an earthquake.”

The monstrous procession behind the single ambulance stretched toward the horizon. Police cruisers, fire trucks, tow trucks, eighteen-wheelers. One right after another, until onlookers started losing count.

Winfield Police Department, Winfield Fire Department, Acadian Ambulance Service, Bear Creek Fire Department, Pea Ridge Fire Department, Twin Fire Department, Haleyville Fire Department, Lynn Fire Department, Brilliant Fire Department, Byrd Fire Department, Shiloh Fire Department, Craft Fire Department, Ward’s Towing Service, Price’s Wrecker Service, Holcomb’s Wrecker Service, and Alabama State Troopers galore.

People applauded. Many cried. And everyone will keep praying until their knees bleed.

Because. That’s just how people in Winfield are.


  1. Tom - January 9, 2020 6:52 am

    I’m from Winfield. Live in PCB. Bring your wife and yourself to dinner sometime.

  2. Dawn A Bratcher - January 9, 2020 7:10 am

    Prayers for Wyatt and his family 🙏🏼🤟🧸❤️

  3. Cherri Jenkins - January 9, 2020 8:28 am

    Now this was really a good one!

  4. Nancy Rogers - January 9, 2020 10:27 am

    Oh Sean, making me cry before I go to work. Bless Wyatt, bless your friend, bless you and God bless small towns like Winfield.

  5. Sharon Lawson - January 9, 2020 10:36 am

    Wow!! There’s good people out there.

  6. GaryD - January 9, 2020 10:51 am

    I wish Wyatt the best. God bless him and be with him😢

  7. Lita - January 9, 2020 11:24 am

    God bless, dearest Wyatt. Love to you, your family, and everyone in Winfield, from a tiny place in England. From my heart to yours. xx

  8. Elizabeth - January 9, 2020 11:25 am

    I hate crying this early in the morning. Can’t imagine what this family is dealing with but they are surrounded by love.

  9. turtlekid - January 9, 2020 11:58 am

    Angel flying too close to the ground. 😢

  10. Jenni - January 9, 2020 12:29 pm

    God Bless Wyatt and his family! Love me some Alabama hometown love and thankful to from a small Alabama town.

  11. Kat - January 9, 2020 12:57 pm

    😇We are praying the mighty Lord fills this little angel and his dear family with all His healing graces. Amen.

  12. LMBS - January 9, 2020 1:02 pm

    My husband’s father was from family. It’s close to our hearts. Thank you! 😢

  13. Jan - January 9, 2020 1:19 pm

    Praying for Wyatt and his family. May God bless them and keep them is His warm embrace! Thank you for sharing Wyatt’s story so that we can keep them in our prayers and in our hearts!

  14. Shelton A. - January 9, 2020 1:36 pm

    God bless and keep Wyatt and his family.

  15. John Allen Berry - January 9, 2020 1:53 pm

    From an old Winfield boy who ain’t got above his raisin’, thanks Sean. God bless you. And God bless Wyatt Spann.


  16. Rhonda Brooks - January 9, 2020 2:08 pm

    This kind of puts just a “bad day” into perspective! Prayers for Wyatt and his family as they go through this journey. Thank you for sharing Wyatt’s story!

  17. aleathia nicholson - January 9, 2020 2:17 pm

    I laughed until I got the hiccups.

  18. Jo Ann - January 9, 2020 2:17 pm

    I’ll bet Wyatt has a lot more people praying for him today. Praying for healing if it’s God’s will , strength & comfort for his family, & peace for Wyatt no matter what the outcome.

  19. Lana Jones Barbaree - January 9, 2020 2:25 pm

    Sending prayers for Wyatt and his family.

  20. Anne Arthur - January 9, 2020 2:29 pm

    Tears in my eyes. Good people! Praying for little Wyatt and his family. May miracles continue to happen.

  21. Sue Riddle Cronkite - January 9, 2020 2:35 pm

    Awe-inspiring. I’m praying for Wyatt to recover from this tragic disease.

  22. Harriet White - Atlanta - January 9, 2020 2:39 pm

    Beautiful little boy. Prayers.

  23. Steve Winfield - January 9, 2020 3:38 pm

    In spite of the name I have no known connections there. Been through 100 times & even worked there some.
    God bless this suffering family.

  24. Linda Moon - January 9, 2020 3:57 pm

    Tiny-towns Alabamians are usually great, and the downtowns are nice, too. The hell of childhood cancer is the worst of all kinds. Thank God the people in Winfield applaud and cry and pray. My “Angels” will be praying for Wyatt Spann as soon as I let them know….in just a few moments. Thank you for gifting us with your heart and words, Sean, so that we can share in the needs and love and prayers for Wyatt in Winfield.

  25. Tammy S - January 9, 2020 4:03 pm

    Prayers for Wyatt, his parents & family. Also, grateful for a town like Winfield who shows such support!

  26. Ida Flynn - January 9, 2020 4:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! We are all praying for Wyatt and his family.

  27. Jo Henra Griffin - January 9, 2020 5:33 pm

    More thoughts and prayers for Wyatt and his family! May God wrap His arms around them always.
    Jo Henra – “former” small town Alabamian

  28. Bobbie Edwards - January 9, 2020 5:37 pm

    Pray for God’s Grace and Mercy on this dear child and his family. Thank you for sharing his story.

  29. Kathy Grey - January 9, 2020 8:28 pm


  30. Brenda Day Mackentepe - January 9, 2020 9:47 pm

    When I was a Freshman at Alabama, way back in 1964, I pick up a stomach virus. I’ve never had one that bad! The sweetest angel from Winfield who lived a couple of rooms down the hall took the most tender care of me, even cleaning up throw up and washing sheets and pj’s. I’ve never forgotten her kindness! Where are you and how are you, sweet Patti Baccus? I pray life has been good to you!

  31. Nancy Bartholomew McCoy - January 9, 2020 10:56 pm

    Being originally from Winfield, I know how caring the people there are. Lifting prayers for Wyatt and his family I can’t imagine their pain but ask that the Lord hold them close and give them peace that surpasses all understanding.

  32. Nedra - January 10, 2020 12:17 am

    My Father-in-law was from Winfield. I have never been there myself. But you have painted a beautiful portrait in words of exactly have I imagined the tiny town. Odes my father-in-law was a giver. I have seen him give the Pizza Hutt waitress a pound cake. He would take his neighbors vegetables from his garden. I am guessing being transplanted to Panama City didn’t change his heart and I Can see him lining the road to welcome Wyatt home. I am praying for Wyatt and his family.

  33. Suzanne - January 10, 2020 12:31 pm

    I needed to see this on this particular morning. Thank you, Sean.

  34. Keloth Anne - January 10, 2020 1:03 pm

    Prayers for Wyatt and his family 🙏🙏💙

  35. Rebecca J Cotney - January 10, 2020 9:28 pm

    Prayers for Wyatt & his family. We lost our 21 year old son in law to brain stem cancer. Prayers carried us through our journrey.

  36. Dell Corley - January 10, 2020 9:34 pm

    prayers for this sweet child and his family. May the Lord be present and provide peace. It sounds like the town is truly remarkable.

  37. Connie Havard Ryland - January 11, 2020 2:18 pm

    Oh Sean. I hate crying this early in the morning. May God give peace and comfort to this family.

  38. Carolyn Greene - January 13, 2020 8:30 pm

    I lost my 8 month old great niece to cancer. It sucks. My love and prayers are with Wyatt, his family and his community. And my heart breaks for them all.

  39. adafrog - January 15, 2020 5:59 pm

    You made me cry.
    Thanks? 🙂

  40. Ann Marie Bouchet - January 16, 2020 4:42 am

    The folks in Winfield are the best! God bless you, Wyatt and your entire family. You are being prayed for little man without ceasing. Our God is an AWESOME GOD!


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