I was saddened today to learn of the passing of Scott Crane. Scott was a 23-year-old Northbrook resident who recently founded a nonprofit that pairs gourmet chefs and individuals with disabilities or serious illnesses for “cooking therapy.”
Scott, a graduate who suffered from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, passed away on Saturday. That same day, his family received a letter stating that he had been selected to receive the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s National Personal Achievement Award. Out of the 50 winners of state-level awards, Scott was chosen for the national honor, which recognizes exemplary accomplishments and community service by individuals with muscular dystrophy.
Given what I learned about Scott in the short time I knew him, it’s no surprise to me that he was selected for such a prestigious award.
I first met Scott in January, when I wrote a story about his own with Eileen Considine-Boggins, a volunteer from Midwest Hospice Care Center. Each week, Scott and Eileen got together to cook something new, or, when Scott wasn’t feeling well enough, to simply talk recipes and ingredients. A self-proclaimed “foodie,” Scott came up with the idea of cooking therapy in lieu of other hospice offerings when he first began treatment with Midwest Hospice last year.
On the day the Cranes graciously opened their home to me, Scott and Eileen were frying up beignets and dousing them—along with the kitchen counter—in powdered sugar.
“I know that I can’t possibly go to New Orleans,” Scott told me later. “Well, I can’t physically go, but I can bring New Orleans to me.”
I was immediately impressed by Scott’s enthusiasm for life, outgoing personality and his sense of humor. When our photographer asked him about the IV inserted in his arm, Scott quipped, “Pain in Crane.” When Eileen noted that traditional New Orleans beignets weren’t dipped in hot fudge, as Scott requested for their recipe, he said, “Well, they screwed up.”
Scott put his humor and friendly nature to work not just with visiting reporters and photographers but also with countless people in need. Before he became too sick to do so, he volunteered at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, bringing cheer to patients from his wheelchair.
Although he could no longer volunteer when I spoke to him in January, he still was living life to the fullest, at work on two major projects. One was a cookbook of recipes to benefit Midwest Hospice Care Center. The other was his nonprofit, In Chef’s Hands—Food Therapy for the Soul, which Crane founded along with renowned chefs Rodelio Aglibot and Todd Stein.
In March, I attended . It involved two sessions demonstrating cooking therapy in action, one at Aglibot’s downtown sushi hotspot, Sunda, and one at Stein’s restaurant, the Florentine.
Seeing the smiles on participants’ faces and talking to parents like Jerry Eichengreen, it was evident how much Scott was already giving back. Eichengreen’s son, Daniel, who is autistic, was one of the participants.
“It’s so hard to find places where our son can be understood and accepted,” Eichengreen told me. “It was so fun to see him having fun.”
While half a dozen fellow foodies rolled and sampled sushi under Aglibot’s direction, Scott sat off to the side. Assuming he’d love to get in on the action, I asked him why he wasn’t making sushi, too.
“It’s not about me today,” he said. “It’s about the foodies.”
From what I learned about him in the short time I knew him, this was quintessential Scott Crane. Despite facing enormous challenges of his own, he set an example of putting others first. At just 23, Scott accomplished quite a bit more than others two to three times his age.
I was truly inspired.
When I called the Cranes Tuesday, Scott’s father, Michael, told me that the family was still planning to attend the launch party for In Chef’s Hands, long ago scheduled for Tuesday night. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the nonprofit via inchefshands.org.
Scott’s funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 15, at Temple Jeremiah, 937 Happ Road in Northfield. Visitation will take place at the Cranes’ house following the ceremony Wednesday until 9 p.m., and Thursday from 1 to 9 p.m.