OCCUPATION: Flight transport nurse for Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.
PERSONAL STATS: Chase hails from the East Coast, where she graduated from nursing school at Boston University. She began her career at Children’s in 1985 as a staff nurse and now flies across Texas (and the world) transporting patients in jets and helicopters. The busy career woman and wife to David, an architect, is a mom of three, Alexandra, 21, Kallen, 8, and Caden, 5. Chase, whose daughter Kallen has Down syndrome, volunteers at the Rise School of Dallas and Wallace Elementary School (where Kallen attends) and is an active member of Dallas’ Down Syndrome Guild.
WHAT DRIVES YOU TO WORK A HIGH-STRESS JOB? I help take care of some of the sickest kids imaginable. It’s my calling. I absolutely love my job and feel very blessed that I’m able to say that. It’s very rewarding to go out and help save kids’ lives. But on the flip side, I’m also able to see healthy kids for transport and work with their families. I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the hospital bed [Kallen has had seven surgeries at Children’s], so I connect with these parents, and that helps keep me going.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK AND FAMILY? My life is not 9 to 5. I work three 12-hour shifts per week and my schedule varies. Additionally, I’m very involved in my kids’ schools. Kallen goes to music therapy and occupational therapy sessions during the week, as well. I have a wonderful nanny who helps cart them to all of their activities (like ballet, gymnastics, horseback riding). I sometimes run on empty during the week, but I catch up on sleep during the weekend.
HOW HAVE YOU HELPED YOUR TYPICAL CHILDREN ADAPT TO THEIR SIBLING WITH SPECIAL NEEDS? Caden attends the Rise School of Dallas, where there is a 60-40 ratio of typical kids to children with Down syndrome. This experience has taught him to embrace and respect other kids. Kallen, on the other hand, goes to Wallace Elementary School, where she is the only student with Down syndrome. I’ve been told that she’s the best thing that’s happened to the school. In their own ways, both Kallen and Caden are learning how to adapt and understand each others’ differences from their school environments. My eldest daughter, Alexandra [from a previous marriage], loves her younger sister. She is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and plans on working in special education.
DO YOU HAVE PARENTING RULES TO GO BY? I raised my oldest daughter to be very honest with me … to make smart choices, and if there’s a time when you need help, come to mom. She now has a 4.0 average at UT, so it makes me feel like I’ve done something right. It’s going to be a little bit different with Kallen, but my philosophy is to teach them to be honest, kind and respectful of elders and to follow their hearts.