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Grieving Mother Finds Purpose In Random Acts Of Kindness And Helping Others

The Enterprise Falmouth

If Falmouth High School graduate Chase R.S. Soares had not died in a car accident in February of 2020, he would have been 26 years old this spring.

“I grieve every single day; the pain never goes away,” Chase’s mother Brooke L. DeBarros said in an interview this week, two years after her son’s death.

“I am hoping I have been strong, turning pain into purpose,” she said.

With the support of friends and family, Ms. DeBarros has spent a year creating a nonprofit organization in her son’s memory called the Team Chase Foundation.

The Team Chase Foundation held its official launch party at Central Park ballfield in Falmouth Heights, one of Chase’s favorite places, on May 15, his birthday.

A crowd turned out for Team Chase Foundation’s official launch party.

The flyer for the event turned Chase’s name into an acronym: TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More, and CHASE: Care, Help, And Share Everyday: words which describe the way Chase moved in the world.

Featuring pizza and ice cream, music, basketball games, a corn hole competition, kindness rocks painting, distribution of the “kindness ball,” a selfie station, raffle prizes, a balloon release, the dedication of a memorial bench, and a plane flying overhead carrying a banner which said: “Happy Heavenly Birthday, Chase Soares,” the party was “better than I ever could have imagined,” Ms. DeBarros said.

“This is the first time I have been able to have an in-person gathering,” she said. “When Chase died, I was in so much pain I didn’t see anyone, and the COVID lock-down started 10 days later.”

“Everyone had such a good time,” Ms. DeBarros said of the launch party. “Beautiful people came from all over. Some flew in from California, Iowa, and Florida. They came from Maine and New Hampshire (where Chase went to college).”

“A huge variety of people all showed me the love,” she said. “People from all over town donated gift baskets and cards. Local businesses supported the event in creative ways.”

While Chase was an overall athlete, basketball was his world, his mother said. “Since he was a little boy, he always had a ball with him.”

Basketball forms the design theme of the foundation, whose mission is to “give back locally and globally” to honor the life and legacy of Chase, who “believed and exemplified throughout his short but profound life that we can all make a difference through acts of kindness large and small.”

The Team Chase Foundation “BE KIND” van (a photo of Chase shooting a basketball is the “I” in “kind”)—which will travel throughout the Cape and eventually across the country spreading and celebrating acts of kindness—is orange, with large photos of Chase holding a basketball painted on one side and huge BE KIND letters printed on the other. A basketball hoop encircles the word “CHASE” with a photo of a ball dropping into it.

The Team Chase Foundation “Be Kind” Van

The “kindness ball challenge” features a round plastic disc with a basketball and the words: The Chase Challenge; pass it on. Instructions are on the back of the disc.

The idea is to do a random act of kindness and leave the card behind, so others can “pass it on.”

Scanning the code on the back of the card takes each user to the website, where that person can enter a name and the act of kindness. The site will recognize the location and, via a map on the site, people can track the ball as it moves around the country.

Ms. DeBarros will also be taking the Be Kind van on kindness tours.

In the manner of the Boston 25 Morning News vans’ “zip trips” to cities and towns around Massachusetts to focus on each town’s strong points, the Be Kind van will visit different Cape Cod towns each month on a “Chase Kindness Tour,” to do random acts of kindness all day long in that town.

Via the Team Chase Foundation’s website and Facebook page, members of the public can see which towns the van will visit next and look for it.

Going further afield, Ms. DeBarros will be taking the kindness van from Cape Cod to Atlanta, Georgia, (where Chase was born) this year, stopping in towns along the way to do random acts of kindness. She will post the van’s route and the acts of kindness on social media for people to follow.

Next year, she hopes to do the same by driving the van from Cape Cod to California, where Chase was planning on moving before he died.

“I was in the mortgage and real estate business for 30 years and I made a good living,” Ms. DeBarros said.

“But since Chase’s death my thinking has changed. Now, instead of making money, keeping Chase’s memory alive is helping me heal. I am blessed to be able to help others. This is the purpose of my life right now.”

On June 7, two Team Chase Foundation scholarships will be given to graduating Falmouth High School students: the “Be Kind Scholarship,” for which applicants write one page on how they are kind, by helping in the community, at school, or within their families, for example.

And the Chase Your Dreams and Soar scholarship, to be awarded to a passionate athlete who also sets a good example for others outside of sports, as Chase did.

“I want the Team Chase Foundation to help as many people as possible,” Ms. DeBarros said. “My dream is that the foundation becomes big enough to help every student in Falmouth.”

Ms. DeBarros said she is adamant about transparency and wants everything Team Chase Foundation does to be documented on social media, so that donors can see where their money is going.

Looking toward “World Kindness Day” on November 13, Ms. DeBarros and her 10-member board of directors (her “team players,” she calls them) are planning a black tie “kindness ball” event at Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth.

“This will keep me alive,” she said of the work of the Team Chase Foundation. “My goal is to do big things and help as many people as possible.”

Originally published by Falmouth Enterprise on May 27, 2022