MDA Personal Achievement Award 2012

Caring and dedicated amateur chef receives top honor posthumously

Article Highlights:
  • Scott Crane, 23, an amateur chef from Northbrook, Ill., is the recipient of MDA’s Robert Ross National Personal Achievement Award for 2012.
  • Crane received the award in part because of his extensive volunteer work on behalf of people with disabilities. He helped found a Chicago-area charity called In Chef’s Hands that pairs prominent chefs with special-needs adults and children for cooking classes and demonstrations.
  • Sadly, Crane, who was affected by myotubular myopathy, passed away the same day his family received notice of the award.
by Miriam Davidson on October 1, 2011 - 3:34pm

QUEST Vol. 18, No. 4

Wherever he went, Scott Crane spread joy.

At the Corner Bakery Café where he worked, he was known for being helpful and kind. When he volunteered for MDA and other organizations, he was always upbeat and enthusiastic. Even during long hospital stays due to respiratory issues, he remained cheerful and positive.

“Spread smiles to everybody everywhere each and every day,” was one of his mantras.

Crane also loved food and cooking. He was a talented amateur chef who helped start a charity called “In Chef’s Hands — Food Therapy for the Soul,” which teams chefs with adults and children with special needs for cooking classes and demonstrations.

For these reasons and more, Crane, of Northbrook, Ill., was named the recipient of MDA’s Robert Ross National Personal Achievement Award (PAA) for 2012.

Sadly, Crane passed away June 11, 2011, the same day the letter arrived from MDA informing him of the award, and three days before his charity was launched.

Crane would have been deeply honored to know that he received the national PAA, his father said. Michael Crane noted that Scott attended MDA camp as a child and actively supported the organization throughout his life by volunteering at the Chicago broadcast of the Telethon, Lock-Ups, restaurant fundraisers, Harley-Davidson motorcycle rallies and other events.

Scott’s friends from MDA and elsewhere — some 800 people — turned out in force for his funeral. “There was a 20-motorcycle escort to lead the procession,” Michael Crane said.

Fine character and generous spirit

Scott Crane was affected by centronuclear myopathy, a progressive muscle disease in which cell nuclei are mislocated in the muscle fibers. The particular form he had, myotubular myopathy, causes extreme muscle weakness, lack of muscle tone and breathing difficulties from birth. Diagnosed at age 4, Scott began using a wheelchair when he was in junior high. In recent years, he battled frequent lung infections, one of which ultimately led to his death.

“MDA is deeply saddened by the death of Scott Crane, and honored to name him the recipient of the 2012 Robert Ross MDA National Personal Achievement Award,” said MDA President & CEO Gerald C. Weinberg. “Through his extensive volunteer work on behalf of people with disabilities, Scott exemplified the fine character and generous spirit that is the hallmark of this award.”

Mr. Determinator

For a man who faced major health issues and was only 23 when he passed away, Scott Crane was admirably accomplished. He was known as “Mr. Determinator” because “he was determined to help others, he was determined to get better every time he got sick, and he was determined to live his life to the fullest,” said Scott’s mother, Teena Crane.

After graduating from high school, Scott Crane attended community college and worked part time at the Corner Bakery Café near his home in Northbrook. He served patrons using a tray on his power chair and received so many compliments for his work that the restaurant gave him a customer service award.

In his spare time, Crane volunteered at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, mentoring young patients and reaching out to those who were having a difficult time. He also worked for the disability-rights organization Open Doors, evaluating the accessibility of accommodations for the guidebook “Easy Access Chicago.”

Food therapy

Crane’s most lasting contribution to his community came about as a result of his love of cooking and eating. In the fall of 2009, while recuperating from a long hospital stay, he was introduced to prominent Chicago chef Rodelio Aglibot (known as the “Food Buddha”), and the two became friends.

Crane started a food blog, through which he made contact with other food enthusiasts all over the world. He began to put together a cookbook to help raise money for a hospice that cared for him during his rehabilitation.

Then, with the assistance of Aglibot and others, he organized a charity to bring together prominent chefs and children and adults with special needs. The nonprofit seeks to provide fun and enriching “culinary educational experiences” both for people with disabilities and the professional chefs.

As Crane said, “Cooking heals the soul. We nurture ourselves while nurturing others.”

Since Crane’s passing, his mother has been helping to complete the cookbook project. The “In Chef’s Hands” charity also is going forward; more than 600 people attended the initial fundraiser, and some 18 Chicago-area chefs have volunteered to participate.

“Scott inspired so many people,” Teena Crane said. “He was funny, witty and creative, and he always wanted to try new things.

“Another one of his favorite sayings was, ‘Eat well, laugh often, live and love life.’”

He will be missed.

Each year, MDA regional offices nominate people with muscle diseases who, through their personal, professional and volunteer achievements, exemplify the essence of the Robert Ross Personal Achievement Award (PAA). (To read more about these remarkable individuals, please visit MDA's website. From these state and regional PAA recipients, the national honoree is chosen.

The award was named for MDA’s longtime chief executive Robert Ross after his death in 2006. Ross created the award to demonstrate that disability is no obstacle to achievement.

Scott Crane succeeds the 2011 National PAA recipient, Thomas Arrington III of Chesapeake, Va. A green-energy entrepreneur and disability rights activist, Arrington is affected by facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD).

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