All photographs courtesy of Brian Chase.


As a volunteer firefighter in her hometown of Ingleside, Texas, Sarah Chase would fearlessly confront any potentially dangerous situation head-on, fires or otherwise.

It was with that same tenacity that she faced her greatest challenge of all -- Dysautonomia, a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. Unfortunately, it was a battle too great even for Sarah, who passed away in her sleep last February due to complications of the illness, leaving behind a 5-year-old daughter, Anja, and her husband, Brian.

To commemorate his wife's love of Texas A&M University and their mutual love of Anja, Brian recently donated $35,000 to establish the Little Princess Anja Endowed Scholarship in Chemistry through the Texas A&M Foundation. Distributions from the gift will be used to create one or more scholarships in the Department of Chemistry for full-time female junior or senior students pursuing undergraduate degrees in chemistry and maintaining minimum 3.5 GPAs.

In addition to the scholarship, Brian committed an additional $35,000 to the Texas A&M Health Science Center to create The Sarah Elizabeth Truitt Chase Dysautonomia Research Fund to help raise awareness about the mysterious illness and to work toward improved diagnostic tools and treatments.

Despite being diagnosed with the illness in 2010, Brian said Sarah continued to live life as normally as possible and never wavered in her pursuit of her aspirations. In 2011 she became a certified paramedic and had dreamed of one day attending Texas A&M to earn a degree in chemistry en route to her ultimate goal of becoming a doctor.

"She was determined to follow in her family's footsteps by attending Texas A&M," Brian said. "Though Sarah's dream never came to fruition, I wanted to make sure that her legacy would endure at the school she loved so much."

Having come from a family with deep-rooted Aggie pride -- her grandfather, Donald Price, and her older brother, Phillip Truitt, are Aggies -- Sarah was eager to continue the legacy. Brian said maroon and white could be found in every room of her family's household, and it wasn't long before he himself was well-acquainted with the many traditions of Texas A&M.

"By the time Sarah and I got married, this yankee had been given first-hand instruction on how to properly 'Gig 'em,' the significance of the 12th Man and what the established protocol was if Reveille barked during a class," he said.

Brian said that even though the loss of his beloved wife will never fully heal, some comfort can be taken in the fact Sarah's dreams will be vicariously realized through others.

"I hope that the chemistry scholarship plays a part in helping Aggie women achieve their goal of earning a bachelor of science in the major Sarah had wished to earn one in," he said. "There is not a more meaningful way of honoring the memory of the departed than establishing a scholarship and a research fund in your loved ones' names which are designed to help others."

To learn more about memorial scholarships or other giving opportunities through the Texas A&M Foundation, visit http://giving.tamu.edu.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

Jarvis Chris

© Texas A&M University. To request use of any of our photographs for educational use or to view additional options from our archive, please contact the College of Science Communications Office.

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