SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Festival of Trees is underway, and for the first time in three years, it’s an in-person event. The festival is a benefit event for Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, and the Ault family of Riverton has been donating a Christmas tree each year in honor of their son Tanner for six years now.

The event will put up hundreds of donated Christmas trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses and more for auction to raise money for patient care. Each item donated has its own unique story of love and or loss.

In April 2016, the Ault family lost Tanner, 3, to a car accident.

The family was walking back to their car after a friend gathering. Jamie Ault had her two-year-old son on her hip. Her sons, Austin, 5, and Tanner, were holding hands and walking nearby when suddenly Tanner stepped into the road and was struck by a passing vehicle.

Emergency crews arrived almost immediately, and Tanner was flown to Primary Children’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Jamie and her husband, Travis Ault, witnessed it all.

“Of all the people there, we saw the accident happen,” Jamie said. “I’ve had to ask myself ‘Why?’ because of the trauma that comes with witnessing that. But Travis and I have talked so much about it that I think we had to see the accident to be able to forgive the driver.”

The Aults spent their final moments tucked away in a room at Primary Children’s with Tanner. It was because of the support and care the family received during this difficult time that they decided to give back through the Festival of Trees.

“Even though our outcome wasn’t what we would have wanted, we are grateful for the love and care we received,” Jamie said.

Each year, the Christmas tree the Aults donated has had a different theme in honor of Tanner.

“We think of a picture that just pops forward and each year each tree has told a different part of Tanner’s story,” Jamie explained.

This year the tree’s theme is “A Merry Little Christmas.” The small traditional tree is covered in red, green, and silver.  

“The festival is a way for us to tell his story,” Travis said. “As you go and visit the Festival, you can feel a touch of each person’s story. It gives you comfort because you know you are not the only one that has been through something hard.”

“Our wish for this tree is just to bring someone happiness. We wanted to make it a classic Christmas. Something so little can bring such joy. That’s what our boy did for us and continues to do,” Jamie added.

“For me, there are certain things in life that matter and certain things that don’t matter. I would encourage everyone to pay special attention to those things that really matter. Family is one of those things,” Travis concluded. 

The Festival of Trees is open to the public through Saturday, December 3rd. All proceeds help patients get the care they need at Primary Children’s Hospital.