‘RAY OF SUNSHINE’: Community mourns the loss of vibrant, young teacher

Local fifth-grade teacher Sara Chance passed away on Nov. 4 after less than a six-week fight with lung cancer. Two fundraisers have been launched to raise money to support her family: husband Eric Chance, 4-year-old son Corbin and 1-year-old daughter Libby, who live in Greenfield. (Photo provided)

GREENFIELD — The Hancock County community is mourning the loss of a young wife, mother, teacher and friend.

Sara Chance was a beloved fifth grade teacher at Maxwell Intermediate School in Greenfield, and a devoted mom to her two kids — her 4-year-old son, Corbin, and 1-year-old daughter, Libby.

She’d been feeling good and actively working out this year, working hard to lose the baby weight she’d gained before giving birth to her daughter last year.

When her back pain started, she chalked it up to postpartum aches and pains. She saw her doctor about the ongoing issue on Sept. 25, however,and found out she had a mass on her spine. It was Stage 4 lung cancer, which had spread to her brain and beyond.

As an energetic 32-year-old and non-smoker, Chance was blindsided by the news.

After rigorous treatment, she succumbed to the disease less than six weeks later — on Nov. 4 — surrounded by family and friends.

“It was just really fast and very hard for her,” said her longtime best friend, Heather Smith of New Palestine. “I guess that’s a little bit of comfort, knowing she didn’t suffer for a long time.”

Chance, who lived in Greenfield, was in her fourth year teaching at Maxwell Intermediate School.

Principal Jobie Whitaker said counselors were available for both students and staff after Chance passed away.

Whitaker will always remember her as a happy, loving teacher who went above and beyond for her students, and who always walked the halls with a big smile on her face.

“She had a big impact on her students, her teaching team, as well as the school as a whole. She was very involved not only in the classroom but also with extra-curriculars. She was the driving force behind our robotics program,” he said.

Chance wrote several grants to buy robots for the Maxwell VEX Robotics program she helped create, and spent a lot of time at practices and competitions.

“Sara was the epitome of a student-centered teacher, who positively impacted all who interacted with her,” said Harold Olin, superintendent of the Greenfield-Central schools. “Words cannot convey the void that this will create for many individuals in our community.”

Smith said Chance was “a ray of sunshine” not only to her family but all her friends and coworkers.

“She loved her family and friends and always wanted to make sure everyone else was taken care of,” said Smith. “Even in the middle of her (cancer) treatments, she would apologize for not being good company or being tired.”

Chance was a lover of music, concerts, racing and riding motorcycles. She also loved animals and volunteered at FACE, a low-cost spay/neuter clinic.

“Although Sara was an amazing friend, daughter, sister and wife, she was the absolute best mom. Her kids were her everything,” said Smith, who can’t imagine what life will look like without her best friend by her side.

The two women met in a church youth group when they were 12 years old, and their bond only grew stronger over the years.

“She knew everything about me. We’d talk about every night and every day,” said Smith. “I never had to worry about her judging me, because I knew she would always accept me no matter what.”

The two women’s families would spend Christmas and other holidays together. “Her family is my family. She loved my son like he was her own,” said Smith.

The Go Fund Me account Smith set up for her friend’s family has raised more than $21,000, which will help pay for funeral expenses and medical bills, including Chance’s three-week-plus hospital stay.

Visitation for Chance will take place from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Park United Methodist Church in Greenfield. A private service will be held Sunday, led by the pastor who married Chance and her husband Eric six years ago. A family graveside service will take place Monday.

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Sara Chance, a beloved teacher at Maxwell Intermediate School, died Nov. 4 after a six-week bout with cancer.

Her friends and co-workers have started fundraisers to help support her family, which includes her husband, Eric, and their two young children.

Maxwell Intermediate School is doing a shirt and mask fundraiser. The link is tristatepande.com/sara-fund.

Chance’s best friend, Heather Smith, has started a Go Fund Me page for the family. To donate, visit gofundme.com/f/saras-fighting-chance.