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The Extra Miler - Column 103

Seizing the Day
By Carol Dawson

Doug Drake and Rev. Harriett Akins-Banman place the Extra Miler pin on Chase Braden.

Among the gentle spirits who were congregating in the Centenary United Methodist Church gathering room, one person stood out, but not because he didn’t fit in.   The crowd likely had an average age of 70 years.  They had gathered together to enjoy fellowship, brunch, and the Jamey Aebersold Quartet’s rhythmic jazz sounds.   

The person who stood out from the crowd was a young 16 year old church member, Chase Braden, our Extra Miler. 

Chase was at the charity event, as he has been for several years, helping in the kitchen, serving coffee, and helping people to their seats.  He comfortably chatted with many of the men and women attending the brunch; showing an understanding, wisdom, and behavior that typically results from a life lived much longer than 16 years. 

Chase settled into his seat and was seemingly mesmerized by the music.  Chase later explained, “Jamey Aebersold has been an inspiration to me.  I started playing the saxophone in Jr. High School and he taught me the importance of practice and dedication.”   Chase appreciates any guidance he gets regarding music because he feels there is less support for it in the community.  “Our schools have eliminated a lot of the programs in the arts and these subjects provide an avenue for children to express themselves when often they have no other comfortable way,” Chase explained. 

Music isn’t Chase’s only passion.  He is extremely dedicated and involved in his church, serving as the Youth District Delegate to the United Methodist Annual Conference.  Chase also sets up for communion/worship services, works in the food pantry, serves dinners, helps with Vacation Bible School, sings in the choir, plays bass in the praise band and tries to assist with every church event.  Chase’s pastor, Reverend Harriett Akins-Banman, explains her view on our Extra Miler, “Chase has two primary focuses in his life – keeping his authentic faith in Christ and his family.  His family taught him a value system that supports his good work.” 

Chase, a Junior at New Albany High School, is in the National Honor Society, National Society of High School Scholars, Thespian Honor Society, and is has acted in eight plays.  Chase has a goal to be either a high school or college history teacher because he finds world history fascinating.  Chase explained the importance of a recent Latin class trip to Italy.  He said, “This trip was a really good opportunity for me.  I was able to actually experience the history of the world.” 

Chase, his grandparents, mother and father have all been recognized as “Giants of the Faith,” by Hope Southern Indiana.  He affirmed, “It was a huge honor to receive the Giants of the Faith recognition, since it has been like a family tradition with three generations.” 

When asked why he volunteers his time for his church, Chase responded, “This is a church with good people.  Anytime my family has had struggles, our church has been there for us – this is just a small way to give back.  Also, being a volunteer at the events gives me the opportunity to be with my grandparents and to make sure they are okay.” 

Doug Drake, a friend and member of Chase’s church congregation, described Chase as being faithful and dedicated.  He said, “This young man is motivated to do good things through his faith.  He goes out of his way to make others feel good.  Recently my brother passed away and Chase surprised me during church by learning and playing my favorite religious song on his saxophone.  I was deeply moved.” 

Reverend Harriett told of the many good deeds Chase does for others – both big and small and noted he is perfectly described as an Extra Miler, since he often prefers to be behind the scenes.  She described Chase as being a “compassionate” young man.

When asked for a one word description of himself, Chase responded, “Intelligent…can I say that; I don’t want to sound vain at all.  I study a lot in order to accomplish my goals and when I really enjoy the subject, I do very well.”  When asked how he thinks others would describe him, Chase responded, “Caring.”  There is nothing vain about it…Chase Braden is a compassionate, caring, faithful and intelligent young man. 

Chase has a phrase that describes the person he is and the person he wants to remain throughout life… “Carpe diem (seize the day),” and he doesn’t plan for anything to throw him off his goals.

Chase…thank you for being an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana and for making a positive difference in your community.   

Extra Miler Tip of the Month

Chase is passionate about helping others and he wanted to share these words with our readers:  “If you care about something, give it your best to make it better…get involved.  If you love something and you know how you can make it better, don’t hold back.  To quote a Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back, "Do. Or do not. There is no try.”    


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