Snow fell outside of Elkhart Memorial High School Monday, but there was plenty of warmth inside.
Students and teachers donned purple shirts with the now recognizable phrase “Sarah Strong” to honor the memory of Sarah Crane, who passed away Saturday.
Crane was a sophomore at the school and battled stage four colon cancer.
At lunch time, students stopped by a table set up next to a large “Sarah Strong” sign. They wrote messages on purple hearts to offer support for the Crane family.
“Sarah was a strong girl to begin with,” said Brooke Moore, a friend and teammate. “When everyone learned [she was sick] we all knew she was going to be a fighter.”
There were some tears on the first day back at school after Sarah’s death. But, there was also some comfort for her classmates in knowing that Sarah’s story made an entire community go “Sarah Strong.”
“It was incredibly amazing,” said Haley Lehman, Sarah’s friend. “I’ve never seen someone so strong in my life. I remember Sarah had written somewhere on social media that she wanted to change the world. And, she did.”
Sarah’s older sister Kylee Crane took to her blog to publish a letter.
“You were so fearless,” Kylee wrote. “Numerous hearts turned purple, now many tears fall.”
In the letter, Kylee references Sarah’s energy and spirit.
“She just brightened up the room,” Moore said.
While she is now longer with them, students hold Sarah’s memory close to their own hearts.
Lehman wears her purple shirt with a special note from her friend and fellow cross-country runner.
“It says ‘Haley thank you for all your support and kick butt in cross for me, from Sarah,’” Lehman said. “I try to do that for her. I try to think about her for every race.”
The visitation for Sarah is scheduled for Friday at the Hartzler-Guthermuth Inman Funeral Home, located at 403 W. Franklin Street in Elkhart from 4-8 p.m.
The service will take place at the California Road Missionary Church at 10 a.m. Saturday.