ELKHART — Wearing purple and shivering in the cold, Sarahstrong supporters had a warm message of comfort and encouragement for the family of Sarah Crane, a 15-year-old girl who died last weekend.
A steady stream of people filed into Hartzler-Gutermuth-Inman Funeral Home on Friday, Dec. 13, where the Crane family welcomed friends for a visitation service for Sarah. She died Saturday, Dec. 7, after a five-month battle with stage four colon cancer.
The funeral home was peppered with symbols of support, including flowers sent by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his wife. Friends and family wore Sarahstrong T-shirts and the Elkhart Memorial student’s favorite color, purple. Brittney Joy and her family brought close to 100 purple ribbon pins for the Crane family.
“I think everyone needs to know about Sarah,” said Joy, who grew up with Sarah’s older sister, Kylee. “I didn’t know her very well personally, but she’s just so strong. I remember seeing her at school before I graduated, and she just looked so healthy, and then I found out she had cancer, and she didn’t let it stop her. She kept going, and she wanted to let everybody know that she was going to fight it until she won.”
Lynette Joy, Brittney Joy’s mother, was struck by how the community came together for Sarah and the Crane family. Thousands of Sarahstrong T-shirts were sold to help the Cranes pay for medical expenses. A #SARAHSTRONG Facebook group started by friends and family has kept people across the country up to date on fundraisers and Sarah’s health. The group has more than 10,700 followers.
“She was a fighter, that’s for sure,” Lynette Joy said. “She’s an inspiration.”
Devin McNeal, a sophomore at Elkhart Memorial, said he wants Sarah to be remembered for her kindness.
“Even through all of this, she was thinking of others,” added his mother, Sarah Nelson.
Blake Kramer, a senior at Elkhart Memorial, ran track with Sarah and said she was “hardworking, very athletic and always fought really hard at everything she did.”
“I think it’s pretty cool that just one person can have an influence on an entire country,” he said.
A funeral service for close friends and family will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at California Road Missionary Church, 29765 C.R. 12 in Elkhart. The service will be broadcast live at californiaroad.org.