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Labor of Love: Honoring Chase Soares

Team Chase Foundation Community Project
Text and Photos by Sarah E. Murphy, Foundation News 

The life of Chase R. Soares ended far too soon, but his family is making certain that his legacy lives forever. 

Since Chase’s tragic passing at the age of 23 last February, his mother, Brooke Lopes DeBarros has navigated her grief by focusing on the bright light her son brought to this world, which is felt to this day, and will continue to shine on through the people he impacted during his far too short journey on this Earth.

I never had the honor of knowing Chase, but I feel as if I did, for Brooke proudly shared photos on social media, capturing his magnetic smile, which radiated charm and pure kindness, and his skills on the basketball court, both high school and college, for she attended every game she could. When she posted videos, you could barely hear the crowd in the stands beyond the joyful cheer of a proud mom, and you couldn’t help but smile, wanting to cheer along with her. 

I met Brooke more than forty years ago at Mullen-Hall Elementary School. It’s why I love being a townie; I continue to cross paths with people I’ve known forever, particularly those innocent days of Halloween parades on Main Street and field trips to Plimoth Plantation. Brooke and I enjoyed after school play dates and went to each other’s birthday parties. I can remember one at her dad’s house when we were about seven. What struck me first about her back then was her loving nature and sweet smile. And when she became a mother, I admired from afar her devotion to her sons, Chase and Brayden, marking occasions with photos of everyone dressed in matching T-shirts. It was no surprise to see the loving family she had created with her husband, Norman DeBarros.

Since Chase’s passing last winter, I’ve watched Brooke weather an unfathomable storm with grace, powering through the darkest days, all during a global pandemic. Chase had greater gifts than athletic prowess; he was a mentor in the Falmouth community, known for spreading love through simple acts of kindness. He was a very spiritual young man, often articulating his beliefs about faith through his artwork. Brooke’s focus now is on keeping her son’s legacy alive, and continuing to make this world a better place in his name. 

While managing the painful tasks that followed his death, Brooke didn’t anticipate that Chase’s grave at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Falmouth would be located next to an unpaved road on the Gifford Street grounds. She has visited Chase every day since last February, and the dirt seemed disrespectful. It wasn’t what she envisioned as a final resting place for her son. 

As a testament to Chase and his family, volunteers rectified the situation on Columbus Day Weekend, however, Brooke had to seek permission from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River in order to move forward with the community initiative. 

The road is now paved, thanks to the time and effort of several caring individuals and donations from Lawrence-Lynch Corporation in Falmouth, Pina Sanitation Service of Mashpee, and Clover Paving Company of Bourne.

Volunteers began at six a.m. on Saturday, October 9, but Clover employee Steven Fernandes couldn’t make it that day. Wanting to do his part, he graded and prepped the road at 4:30 in the morning on Friday, before heading in to work. Norman worked overtime to help fund the project; Chase’s grandmother, Susan Lopes also donated, in addition to an anonymous donor. 

This beautiful gesture will not only be felt by Chase’s family, but all those who make the difficult trip to visit their loved ones. Just as he did in life, Chase continues to spread kindness. 

Brooke and I will be using this space to highlight the impactful ways she plans to keep his memory alive. 

Heroes don’t die, neither does love…