Chance's Pie Palace: A sweet legacy with HPUMC’s Special Needs Ministry

BY: Martha Vaughan

Chance was happy, handsome, outgoing, and had a real joy for life. He was also born with a brain malformation, which meant that he couldn’t walk or talk. Because he had trouble with his motor skills, Chance was bound to a wheelchair.  But that didn’t stop him from being able to make an incredible apple pie.

His parents, Hal and Christy Urschel, were always trying to find things that Chance could do at home despite his physical limitations. “It turned out that he really enjoyed the cooking process,” says Hal.  “One of Chance’s teachers taught him how to make a uniquely delicious apple pie. He would bake it from scratch, cutting up the apples and making the dough. It would take him about an hour to make a pie, and it would turn out beautiful every time.”

“People loved them. We would give them away at Christmas, and people would sometimes call us if they didn’t get a pie that year!” Hal adds.

“It brought him great joy to give to others,” says Christy. “It was hard for him to try to hold onto a spoon, but we very quickly learned that it was very motivating for him to be in the kitchen and try to use a spoon to actually make a pie. He really understood that once it was finished, he was going to be able to give it to someone.”

The Urschel’s first got involved with HPUMC’s Special Needs Ministry when Chance was born. The Night OWLs program , a respite program that helped families with special needs get a night out once a month, was just getting started. Later, the youth ministry would become Chance’s primary social circle outside of his extended family. He loved the fellowship, and particularly, the music.

Chance’s Pie Palace

When he was just 20 years old, Chance passed away. But his mother, father, and younger brother Carr are determined to make his legacy last for generations to come. That’s why they’re teaming up with HPUMC’s new Beyond Campaign.

When the Urschel’s heard about the new Tolleson Family Center, and its entire floor dedicated to the special needs community, they knew they wanted to be involved. The center features a special sensory room, an activity hall, and a full kitchen, which will house a brand new baking ministry.

“My first reaction was that Chance would have loved this,” Hal says. “Giving these children a special place where they will feel so celebrated and at home and so welcome is pretty extraordinary. I think that speaks volumes that you are not only accepted here, but you are welcome here and you have great value.”

"We felt as a family that our experience and love for Chance should be a part of this great center,” he adds. So much so, that the new kitchen will be named Chance’s Pie Palace, in hopes that other special children can follow in Chance’s love for baking.

“This is something which allows people like my brother to have their life changed by the church,” says Carr. “I couldn’t have imagined having Chance as a brother without having the church. He just had so much fun there and it was so great for him. Some families with special needs children might not have experienced that yet but these facilities, this amazing kitchen, and the motor skill facilities they can use are not only going to change the kid’s life, but the parent’s life also.”

“This is not just providing a space for these special children and their families,” added Christy. “We’re also going to acknowledge that they have extraordinary gifts. We’re going to integrate them and have them be a part of baking for other ministries and providing music for other ministries, giving them a chance to serve.”

Hal notes that one of the reasons that his family really believes in the church’s Special Needs Ministry is that it will enrich the church as much as it will help special needs families. “This will help everyone understand the beauty and the benefit of this population and the resources it provides for the church; the special needs group will actually give back tremendously by inspiring us.”


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