In February 2020, Chase Soares, a 23-year-old from Falmouth, died in a tragic car accident. Soares was a son, a friend, and a passionate basketball player. He was also the first-born of his mother, Brooke DeBarros, and her pride and joy.
To deal with the grief of her son’s death, and to keep his memory alive, DeBarros created the Team Chase Foundation, a nonprofit organization designed to spread kindness through random acts, such as buying someone a meal, or helping a friend.
“The only thing that really helps me is helping other people in memory of my son,” DeBarros said.
Kindness Ball Tour
After launching in May, DeBarros and the rest of Team Chase traveled from the Cape to Atlanta, , Chase’s birthplace, spreading acts of kindness along the way. They rode in the Team Chase van, a bright orange vehicle with Chase’s picture on it as well as the Team Chase logo.
Along the route to Georgia, Team Chase stopped in states along the way and committed acts of kindness, such as giving out gift cards, paying for meals, and even handing out flowers.
Each time the team committed an act of kindness, the team gave the recipient a plastic round disc in the shape of a basketball. The disc bears a QR code on the back the person could scan. The idea is for the person to pass on the act of kindness to another person, and then pass that person the disc so they have an opportunity to pass an act of kindness onto someone else.
From the archives: Friends and family remember Chase Soares
"The object is just to keep that ball rolling, from one person to another, and hopefully people will do something nice,” DeBarros said.
The QR code enables the recipient to scan the disc and upload their act of kindness to the Team Chase website, where viewers can see the location of the act as well as the details of the act. To date, 95 acts of kindness have been documented, according to the Team Chase website, and discs have traveled from the Cape, to Iowa, to Georgia, and even to South Korea.
These include people like Emily, a Florida woman who gave soup from her job at Panera Bread to a patient at a local hospital, and Susan, a Plymouth woman who donated food to a charity for senior citizens.
DeBarros hopes to have a second Kindness Ball Tour next year, where Team Chase will travel from the Cape to California, spreading acts of kindness in states along the way.
Not all acts of kindness done by the Team Chase Foundation are random. The foundation is also involved in distributing scholarships, such as the “Chase Your Dreams and Soar High” Scholarship, which will be given annually to a graduating senior from Falmouth High School with a passion for basketball.
This year, the Team Chase foundation awarded four scholarships.
The foundation also plans to do a Chase Challenge in which they expect to raise money for a particular cause, such as breast cancer, on a monthly basis.
Keeping Chase’s memory alive
When Chase died, his mother, DeBarros's, grief was exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. This meant she couldn’t see her friends or family, or hug or kiss the people she loved.
She cried every day for 10 months.
“I just didn’t want to be here, I just didn’t know what to do without the love of my life,” DeBarros said.
DeBarros installed a memorial bench of Chase at the Falmouth Heights basketball court, where he would often play. Although people commented on the beauty of the memorial, Brooke realized that people would forget about it soon after.
To keep his memory alive, DeBarros began the Team Chase Foundation, and left her job to pursue this work full time.
She expects the Team Chase Foundation will continue to keep her son’s memory alive by spreading kindness and contributing to educational and athletic initiatives.
This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Cape mother keeps son's memory alive with nonprofit foundation