The Wiley Family
Whitney Wiley was a compassionate and caring preschool teacher at Pershing Elementary School. Whitney recently lost her battle with a rare and aggressive form of cervical cancer, leaving behind her husband, Justin, and their two children, Landon and Harper. Whitney certainly put up a fight to beat the cancer, and her family always made it clear it was a family battle. Her son made up the family slogan, "no one fights alone." We know how hard the first holidays after losing a loved one can be, so we worked with our partners to make this Christmas extra special for the Wileys. Justin's biggest request was to continue on Whitney's legacy of helping others, and that's just what we have in store!
The Jeneske Family
15-year-old Sophia Jeneske began expressing concern to her mom about pain in her eye. Following a failed antibiotic prescription attempt and her eye beginning to protrude, a CT scan revealed a tumor behind Sophia's eye. An MRI and biopsy gave the family an answer — ocular rhabdomyosarcoma. This rare form of cancer only has 35 cases diagnosed per year. In November, Sophia and her mom Jessica flew to San Diego for radiation treatment, and Sophia is seeing improvements. UBT and our partners wanted to give the Jeneske family a Christmas to remember with loads of special surprises.
Suzy G. and Molly
Suzy found herself in an emotionally abusive relationship and was looking for a way out. She found refuge with Fresh Start, a multifaceted program that works to empower women experiencing homelessness and other issues to change their lives. She was able to get back up on her feet with a new job, a dependable car, and a safe new home. This past summer, Suzy suffered a major medical incident that resulted in surgeries and procedures, which meant time away from work and a pile of bills to pay. Our partners agreed Suzy was in need of some extra holiday cheer this year. Together, we were able to give Suzy some pampering, much-needed household items, and a few gifts for her sweet pup, Molly.
The Fagan Family
Dan Fagan took his colon cancer diagnosis in 2018 like a trooper. He was working through treatment until COVID-19 threw a wrench into his plan; then, in October, a CT scan revealed cancer in his esophagus. Dan continues to be upbeat and determined to have a positive outcome. UBT and our partners wanted to make this Christmas extra special for Dan and his family. The Fagans enjoyed a wonderful meal at Misty's Steakhouse, where they received gifts tailored to their needs and interests.
The George Family
Beth George has a full plate between working two jobs and taking care of her 14-year-old daughter, Catalina, and her mother, Lorraine, who is fighting cancer. The last year has been hard on Beth; she's had a couple bouts with Covid and some rental home issues. One of Beth's jobs is as a Benevolence Coordinator at Christ Place Church, where she works with families struggling to make ends meet and makes it a point to treat them with the respect and kindness they deserve. The UBT Magic Moments team and our partners worked together to give Beth and her family a holiday that is extra special.
Madison Clark and Family
When Madison Clark's soon-to-be stepson came to live with her and her fiancé Zach unexpectedly, Madison stepped up to the plate and fully embraced him as her own. 6-year-old Finn was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy, which leaves him wheelchair-bound with three paralyzed limbs. Madison handles being a caretaker, mom, and working full time with grace and without any complaints. Our partners helped us give the whole family a host of experiences where they can make wonderful memories.
The Kilzer Family
Cassie and Skyler Kilzer welcomed their baby girl Ruth in February 2021. As she grew, Cassie and Skyler were concerned that Ruth wasn't meeting her milestones, and suddenly last summer, Ruth stopped being able to hold her head up. An ER visit in Lincoln led to an ambulance ride to Children's Hospital in Omaha, where doctors determined Ruth had an abnormal connection between her arteries and veins in her brain and spine, known as an arteriovenous malformation, or AVM. Thankfully Ruth is making progress after multiple surgeries and ongoing therapy, and she has a new baby brother to grow up with, too: Cassie and Skyler welcomed baby James in November. Our partners agreed the Kilzers could use some extra joy this holiday season and helped us provide them with gifts that are fun for the whole family.
The Alcorn Family
In September, Erin Alcorn lost the love of her life, husband Ty, after only being married for 10 months. Erin tries her best to give her three sons a sense of normalcy for the family as they navigate through the heartbreaking loss. Ty was a wonderful dad who enjoyed putting his own spin on everything, and the family knows he'd surely be putting his own spin on Christmas this year. UBT and our partners understand how tough the first holidays after losing a loved one can be. We worked together to provide Erin and her boys a wonderful Christmas full of family outings and toys without forgetting the essentials like groceries and gas.
Heather Clark and Family
Heather Clark is a mom of three who runs an in-home daycare and keeps a stocked Little Free Pantry in her yard. Heather has devoted her life to helping others with whatever means she has, going so far as to give bags of newly purchased groceries out of her car to a man looking for food in her Little Free Pantry. UBT and our partners wanted to show how meaningful Heather's impacts on her community are by gifting her a variety of fun activities, gifts, and a restock of her Little Free Pantry.
The Madadjim/Gnasolal Family
Roland Madajim came to Lincoln by way of Chad, Africa, to attend UNL in 2019. Just as Roland was finishing up his master's degree, Chad's president was assassinated, and Roland rushed home to be with his family. After a long year without improvements in the country, Roland decided it was time to come back to Lincoln — this time with his wife and two daughters. When they arrived in Lincoln as a family in August, they had nowhere to stay. With the help of an amazing community, they were able to piece together some essentials but are still missing a few things, mainly enough beds for everyone. UBT worked with generous partners to ensure the family has enough beds and various household essentials.
The Krejci Family
22 years ago, Adrienne Krejci's life was dramatically altered when she was badly injured in an accident when a drunk driver collided with the car she was riding in and killed her best friend. The effects of her injuries and survivor's guilt still haunt her to this day. Now, Adrienne is a passionate advocate against drunk driving and often shares her story in hopes to save others from a similar fate. The last year has been tough too — she lost both her mother and grandmother. UBT and our partners made the season a little brighter for Adrienne and her family with gifts of creativity time for the family to make memories all year long.
The Pietzyk Family
Taysha and Logan Pietzyk welcomed their beautiful daughter Willow Mae in December 2020. Willow was a perfect addition to their life, and they basked in every snuggle, coo, and sweet sigh. Within a few short months, Willow began choking on her bottle and losing weight at an alarming rate. Doctors ran so many tests on sweet Willow but couldn't find a cause. With the help of Laura and Zach Bennett directing the Pietzyks to a local doctor, Willow was diagnosed with Krabbe disease, a rare, inherited metabolic disorder. Baby Willow succumbed to the disease at just eight months old. Undoubtably this time of year is hard for the Pietzyks, so UBT worked with our partners to give them joy this holiday season, including a sweet remembrance brick for Willow at Sunken Gardens.
Mighty Matt Novotny and Family
In 2019, Matt Novotny was diagnosed with stage 3 malignant melanoma that had spread to his lymph nodes. While surgeries and treatments helped treat the cancer, his cancer regimen stopped working and the cancer began to spread again. Matt is on a new treatment plan, but without insurance, the medical costs are mounting. UBT worked with our partners to provide Matt and his family with a Christmas full of family experiences.
The Eddins Family
Sam Eddins gave birth to twin babies at just 24 weeks pregnant. Doctors fought hard to keep the twins alive and now a year later, they are thriving despite requiring a great deal of around-the-clock medical care. The twins have an older brother, Colton, who has a blood disorder called ITP that limits the activities he can partake in. Our partners helped us secure safe activities and fun gifts for this busy family.
The Roberts Family
When Micah Roberts was two months old, he stopped breathing. His terrified father, Michael, performed life-saving measures until the paramedics could arrive. This scary incident led to Micah developing cerebral palsy. Now, Micah is 4 years old, and while he's nonverbal, his smile lights up the room. Michael gets an abundance of help with Micah from his wonderful mom, Deb. She and Micah are just the best of buds, as she spends many days with him taking care of him and helping him learn. Along with our partners, UBT gave these 49ers fans a Christmas to remember.
The Dubas Family
Haley Dubas had a challenging 2020. She was diagnosed with both endometrial and fallopian cancer, which in and of itself is pretty scary, but even more so during a pandemic. Her husband, Matt, was there every step of the way as a beacon for Haley. In September 2022, the Dubas family got the amazing news that Haley is in remission! To celebrate her remission, UBT and our partners worked to give Haley and Matt some extra joy this holiday season.
The Peterson Family
Andrea and Colby Peterson are a close-knit couple who love spending time with each other, going to the movies and being with their family. Andrea has a reputation of putting others first — giving her time wherever she can. Due to recent health changes, medical bills are mounting, which can make the holidays a little tough. UBT and our partners are honored to be able to gift some cheer this year to such a kind, giving person.
The Lamborn Family
Jordann Lamborn is a single mom of three girls. She always tries to give them everything they need to succeed in life. The family was hit with some hard news recently: 13-year-old Taushanea has a brain tumor. Thankfully, Taushanea is home now after an extensive surgery and attending school when she's able. UBT arranged to show Jordann and her family some holiday love with the help of our amazing partners.
The Clay Family
Iyonna Clay is a mom of five who makes her family a priority and has a desire to improve herself, set a great example for others, and make a difference in her community. Recently, Iyonna moved her family into a safer home and had a long-overdue back surgery that made an already tight budget even tighter.
The Akridge Family
Ben and Michaela Akridge credit their faith for the wonderful things that have happened to them and the path their lives have taken. In March, their son Levi was diagnosed with the T-cell lymphoblastic form of lymphoma. The whole family is breathing a sigh of relief now that Levi is in the maintenance stage of treatment.
Reflecting on Magic Moments
Giving is the reason for the season
Our 20th year of Magic Moments was a huge success: This year, we were able to make the holidays brighter for 20(!) deserving families in the Lincoln area. Thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate someone, and of course, thank you to all of our community partners and donors for making these Magic Moments possible.
Thank you to these generous donors