By Amelia Santaniello

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After an incredibly tough year, a Twin Cities family was surprised with the “Best Christmas Ever.”

Sarena Nourse is a mother of three and a nurse. In 2019, she battled and beat stage-four bone cancer. A year and a half later, she learned the cancer returned and was now in her brain, lungs and chest. This past fall, she underwent another round of chemo and surgeries.

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Her story was one of thousands received by the Twin Cities nonprofit called Best Christmas Ever. The group serves families that have fallen on hard times. This year, organizers said they received six times the usual amount of requests for help. The families that were chosen were given toys, home goods and other gifts to help make the season bright.

Dr. James Midboe, from Finish Line Wellness, helped organize the surprise.

“It’s really about showing these people that although they’re going through probably the hardest time of their life, that they’re cared for,” Midboe said.

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(credit: CBS)

Tuesday night, surrounded with friends and carolers, the friend who nominated Nourse’s family read the letter, and revealed dozens of wrapped gifts, thousands of dollars to help with medical bills and a new van for doctor’s appointments. Nathan Nourse said their van is not reliable, and this will be a huge relief to help the family.

This year, the family is finding strength in faith and friends. And they are thankful for the blessing along this tough journey.

“Twenty-twenty is something I don’t think any of us will ever forget,” Nourse said. “But this definitely brightens things up and brings things into perspective.”

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Best Christmas Ever partners with local companies to make these surprises possible. For more information, visit

Amelia Santaniello