‘Best Christmas Ever’ for Lynnville family

Lynnville family experiences Best Christmas Ever, from left, Cheyenne Smith of Lovilia nominated Tiffany Matthess, Gunnar, Taya, and Reece, shown with Jacee and Jamie Ball of Knoxville, who organized the gifting event held just before Christmas on the foggy Dec. 22 Friday evening.


By Margaret Vander Weerdt

“Sometimes people through no fault of their own fall on hard times,” said Jamie Ball of Knoxville and Iowa Captain of BCE (Best Christmas Ever). Such is the case with Tiffany Matthess of Lynnville whose one-year-old son Gunnar Sturkie has a genetic disorder requiring several hospitalizations, including being seriously ill in November, so his mom has not been able to work. Boys with the disorder are very rare, and Matthess also has two daughters with the genetic disorder, nine-year-old Reece and six-year-old Taya Matthess.

On social media, Tiffany met Lovilia resident Cheyenne Smith who felt the need to nominate Tiffany and her family for Best Christmas Ever. The nomination was accepted, and the two met in person for the first time when BCE made a surprise delivery of gifts at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 22, at the home of Tiffany’s mother, Carrie and Randy Vander Weerdt of Searsboro. BCE blesses families with a custom and unique Best Christmas Ever tailored to the family situation.

A large crowd of family, friends, and fire department personnel and their families gather inside the home of Tiffany Mathess' mother, Carrie and Randy Vander Weerdt, one mile west of Searsboro.


Sprint car driver Ball and his wife Jacee have been doing BCE for five years, and Friday night’s delivery was their eighth one. She said, “This is a big part of our Christmas” doing BCE. To collect the gifts for Tiffany and her family, Giving Trees were set up at Legacy Fitness in Ankeny and at National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville. Many people donated gifts for nine- and six-year-old girls and a one-year-old boy and their mother, along with cash. Locally, a very long line of carloads of adults and kids followed the ambulance and three fire trucks from Sully Fire Department as well as one fire truck from Lynnville Fire Department with lights flashing and sirens sounding as they escorted the delivery of a huge pile of gifts for the Lynnville family. Ball was very happy to also give a gift of $5,500 to the Lynnville family.

“I am extremely humbled by the events from the night,” Tiffany said. “I truly can’t thank Cheyenne enough along with my family and close friends for coming and supporting my family. The last year has been one of the roughest years, but time and time again I am reminded we are not alone. Truly this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for social media and the friendship it brought me. Cheyenne and I met because of a small business on social media that was asking for reps. We were selected to rep together, and I never would have imagined someone would have it placed on her heart to nominate us, not even meeting us in person. We are so, so thankful and humbled by the generosity. This is so much more than I could have ever asked for!”

Tiffany continued, “The girls more than anyone deserve this. They have lived over 15 of the last 52 weeks with my mom as Gunnar was in and out of the hospital and truthfully have taken what life has thrown at us like champs. I was truly struggling with how to make this Christmas what they deserve, but because of BCE they got what they deserved and so much more!”



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