Family’s tragedy gives life to others
By Ashlee Buhler
Editor in Chief
Nathan Chance was sitting in a classroom at Lansing Community College when he received a phone call that would change his life forever: “The boys were hit by a car; it doesn’t look good.”
It was Oct. 26, 2016. Dusk had just fallen, with the weather a bit drizzly.
Nathan’s wife, Carrie, was in Grand Ledge picking up their 6-year-old daughter, Miranda, from dance class. Tagging along were their two sons: Zephan, 8, and Malachi, 11.
The boys ran ahead as they headed back to the car. Thinking the road was clear, they crossed the street. That is when the unthinkable happened.
Both boys were struck by an oncoming vehicle. Because of the road conditions, the driver could not see them.
Nathan left class to meet his family at Sparrow Hospital. When he arrived, Zephan was severely injured, but conscious. Malachi, however, was motionless.
The doctors ran some tests. Within 24 hours they informed Nathan and Carrie that their son had no activity in the brain.
“It was devastating,” Nathan said. “You’re hoping for a miracle, but in reality, we were waiting for the body to just end.”
Surrounded by his family in the days after the accident, Malachi died from his injuries on Oct. 31, 2016.
Nathan, a 44-year-old education major at LCC, described his son as a kind soul; the kind of kid who would have done anything for anyone.
Despite his love for fishing, Malachi didn’t like the idea of harming a fish. At school he made an effort to say hello to everyone and became friends with those that nobody else would.
“That solidified who he was,” Nathan said. “He was a friend to all, and that is what was so powerful about him. He was involved in Boy Scouts and even the older boys migrated to him … he was one of those infectious kids that draws you in.”
Since his passing, Malachi has continued to make a difference in the lives of many. Through an organization called The Gift of Life, Malachi has given people from all walks of life a second chance to live.
Several of his organs were donated, ultimately saving five lives and restoring vision in a sixth.
Scott Rose, 47, was the recipient of one of Malachi’s kidneys and his pancreas.
Rose was added to a transplant waiting list after his kidneys failed in 2015. About a year and a half later, he received a call that would not only save him, but change life as he knew it for the past 33 years.
“I have been Type 1 diabetic since I was 12,” Rose said. “I’ve taken insulin shots my whole life, three to four shots a day, up until the transplants.
“The day after the surgery everything changed. The way I had been used to living since I was 12, it was just no more … I guess you’d have to be a diabetic for that long to understand all the little things that you deal with that most people would not even think about.”
In March of 2018, Rose had the opportunity to meet with Nathan and Carrie at their home in Lansing.
“It went great,” Rose said. “It was absolutely wonderful. I was very eager to meet them. I was more nervous sending the first contact letter because I didn’t know if it was too early … I wanted to give them time to grieve, but at the same time, I didn’t want them to think I was taking what I received for granted.”
On Oct. 3, 2018, the date of Malachi’s birthday, Nathan and Carrie received a letter from Zion, the 8-year-old boy who lives with Malachi’s heart. Zion received the heart when he was just 6 years old.
“That was one was a huge one for us because it was the heart,” Nathan said. “Plus, he was one of the younger ones … the two little ones had the biggest impact because they have so much life to live still.”
The other lives that were impacted by Malachi’s organ donation included a 5-year-old girl who received his liver and a 45-year-old women who received his intestines. His corneas went to a 45-year-old man and his other kidney went to a 70-year-old woman.
In the two years since Malachi’s passing, Nathan and Carrie continue to make light of their difficult situation.
“I admired how well they took the whole situation,” said Mandi Woodward, Carrie’s co-worker at Head Start. “The first thing (Carrie) said to me was to pray for the woman who hit him because it was nothing more than a freak accident.
“I thought it was really moving and touching that in that moment, instead of being angry at someone, her first thought was to think about that person.”
In honor of Malachi, Woodward started an annual toy drive that runs through the month of October. The toys are collected at Head Start in Lansing (near Old Town) and Wacousta Elementary School near Grand Ledge, where Malachi went to school. The toys are then donated to Sparrow Hospital on the anniversary of the day that Malachi passed.
“They always talked about Malachi and what a sweet and giving boy he was,” Woodward said. “I knew that the one-year anniversary was coming up and thought about doing something to give to the kids at Sparrow … (Nathan and Carrie’s) heart broke in that very same place, so seeing them giving back and knowing what it’s going to do for other kids, maybe in similar situations, it warms my heart.”
To keep Malachi’s memory alive, Nathan and Carrie would like to set up a foundation in his honor called “Malachi’s Gifts.” The foundation would provide scholarships to send kids to a camp of their choice.
The foundation would also continue to provide toys for children in hospitals. The hope is to spread joy and kindness, just as Malachi always did.
“The name Malachi actually means messenger,” Nathan said. “We always thought his message was going to be something different, but I think he still has a strong message to put out to people.
“Even though he is not with us anymore, his kindness has gone beyond him. Malachi’s message is that if you have to choose between being kind and being ugly, choose kindness.”