Minor Leaguer Receives Final Honor for Giving the Gift of Life

By: Katelynn Metz

Chace Numata Honor Walk_Long

When he died tragically at age 27, it was a given that Chace Numata, catcher for the Erie SeaWolves, would be remembered for his talent on the baseball field. But, according to his family, it was what he was able to do after his passing that epitomizes what kind of giving person he truly was.

“Chace has always been such a caring and giving person who loved to help others and his final wish is to do exactly that,” the Numata family said in a written statement. “God blessed him with so many gifts during his lifetime, and now Chace has the ability to continue his legacy by saving lives with the gift of giving his organs to those in need. ‘Chace Boy,’ we are so proud of you for all that you are, all that you have done and all that you are doing.”

To honor Numata’s legacy as an organ donor, staff from UPMC Hamot hospital in Erie, as well as the Center for Organ Recovery & Education together with the Numata family, including parents Cher and Nathan Numata, sister Kanani Numata and brother Chevas Numata, gave Chace Numata a hero’s sendoff — an honor walk.

During the honor walk, Chace Numata was led down the hospital corridor from his hospital room to the operating room. Pushing his hospital bed were members of his family as well as the Erie SeaWolves President Greg Coleman. In the background played KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Give it Up,” the catcher’s favorite song and the one that rang through the baseball stadium every time he took the field.

“Chace was a great ambassador for the Erie SeaWolves,” Coleman said. “He had a contagious smile and a fun-loving spirit that could instantly brighten your day. Chace had a positive impact on so many lives, so it was no surprise that he decided to help others by being an organ donor. While we’re saddened by the loss of our teammate and friend, we take great solace in knowing his legacy will live on in others.”

And, when it was time, his parent’s kissed him one final time.

As is done with all organ donors, UPMC Hamot lit their outside lights in the Donate Life colors, blue and green, to honor him and his donation.

Chace Numata, a Detroit Tigers prospect who played for their Double A affiliate team in Erie, Pennsylvania, died after falling from an electric skateboard. As an organ donor, he was able to give his heart, liver, both kidney and pancreas, to save the lives of those in need.

Like all donor families, CORE will support the Numata family along their grief journey. In addition to the memorial handprints and cards the family received, they were automatically enrolled in a 13-month bereavement program especially for donor families.

CORE President and CEO Susan Stuart said an honor walk openly recognizes a person’s decision to donate and enhances the public’s understanding of the importance of organ donation.

“Honor walks are an opportunity to pay our respects to a donor, honoring them for their life-saving gifts, while also lending support and compassion to their grieving family in a moment of fathomless loss,” Stuart added. “These poignant ceremonies also recognize a hospital’s commitment to organ donation. We appreciate the commitment from UPMC Hamot to partner with CORE to provide this kind of healing to Chace’s family.”