By Brenda L. Holmes
Family and friends of James “Matthew” Sneed will be holding a Celebration of Life and a benefit to honor his memory from 3 to 8 p.m. Oct. 6 at Five Star Catering at Primo West in Plainfield.
Sneed was killed in a motorcycle accident on May 5. He left behind two sons and a fiancé, as well as other family members and friends.
The celebration will be held on what would have been his 34th birthday. Sneed had worked as a foreman at Brown’s Construction Company for many years.
Family friend Gretchen Nichols of Plainfield said she felt called to hold the event to help the family with funeral costs and other bills.
“God just told me he wanted me to do this,” Nichols said. “I was good friends with Matthew’s sister when we were younger. I only knew Matthew as a teenager, not as an adult.”
She said she called Heather Briggeman, Matthew’s sister, and asked permission to hold a benefit.
“She asked the family and they said yes,” she said. “I feel like I’ve really gotten to know him through them during this process.”
Nichols has been spending time with the family who is also helping to organize the event with the help of another friend, Callie Enright, also a PHS graduate.
His mother, Debbie Sneed, said the pain of losing her son is still very difficult. She and her husband, Gary Sneed, live in Avon. They had lived in the Camby/Plainfield area for more than 20 years.
“He had been riding with friends and was on his way home, getting on I-70,” she explained. “He ran into the back of a tanker truck. His body fell there, but his motorcycle was thrown the length of a football field.”
She said a couple stopped to help direct traffic and the woman is a nurse, so she helped keep him alive until first responders arrived.
“She held his head and talked to him until the ambulance was there,” Debbie Sneed said. “She tried to keep him breathing, but there were three broken bones in his neck. He was taken to Wishard.”
Sneed lived for 36 hours in a deep coma.
“In that 36 hours, probably 130 people came to see him at the Wishard ICU,” she said. “When he passed, there were 35 family members in the room praying and singing with him.
“Matthew was the third child of three. He was a sweetheart but did get in with the wrong crowd when he was about 15. He had really turned his life around and had touched so many people in his life.”
His brother, Gary Sneed II, was able to make it to Indiana from his Colorado home to spend the last 12 hours with his brother before he died.
“They had lived so far away for 12 years that we would only see him about once a year,” Debbie Sneed said. “Since then, they’ve moved back here.”
During the visitation, there was a two and a half hour line of people waiting to view the closed casket. The funeral was also heavily attended.
“There was a line of cars to the cemetery about three miles long,” Sneed said. “If you knew him, you loved him. We still miss him every second of every day. He really did touch a lot of lives.”
Matthew Sneed has two sons — Loagin Matthew Sneed, 15, and James Allen Sneed, who recently celebrated his first birthday.
“He still knows his daddy,” Debbie Sneed said. “He loves to look at his picture and kiss it.”
His mother, Veronica Lopez, was engaged to Matthew Sneed and they were to be married June 30.
The goal is to help pay for funeral costs, the headstone, and some other bills for the family.
The Celebration of Life will include a concert by Terry Bailey, a country gospel singer; Nate Kennedy, a guitarist; Allene Adams & Coco, a ventriloquist act; 2 Shots, a band; and Kreigh Hurst, an illusionist.
Sam Anderson from Studio Z will also be hosting a Zumba class. There will be a cornhole tournament as well as a bounce house, face painting, and a food truck.
The fundraising will come from a charge for the Zumba class, games for the children, a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction, and any donations that people make.
Nichols said there is a long list of sponsors for the event including Harley West, Harley South, Baymont Hotel, Indiana Fever, Crooked Stick Golf Course, Hooters, BW3’S, Dave & Busters, and Crackers.
“The list just goes on and on,” she said. “Those are just some of the big names. Primo donated a room that seats 300 people, the tables and chairs, and part of their parking lot for the event.”
Nichols said she has enjoyed organizing the event and is hoping the community comes out to support the family on Oct. 6.
“I’m so blessed God picked me to do this for them,” Nichols said. “I know my life has changed.”
Donations for the family may also be made through a PayPal account on the “Celebration of Life - Matthew Sneed” Facebook page.
3 to 3:30 p.m. registration for Zumba $5 per person
3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Zumba
3:30 to 4 p.m. registration for Cornhole $10 per person
4 to 4:15 p.m. Cornhole teams announced
4:15 p.m. Cornhole begins
3:30 to 5:30 p.m. bounce house
3 to 3:30 p.m. Allene and Coco - ventriloquist
3:30 to 4 p.m. Kreigh Hurst - illusions
4 to 4:30 Nate Kennedy - acoustic guitar
4:30 to 5 p.m. Terry Bailey - country gospel singer
6 to 8 p.m. 2Shots - live band