Grace Rett was a loving daughter and sister, a good friend, a fierce competitor and more. Her death in a car crash while on a College of the Holy Cross rowing trip to Florida last January is a tragedy, not a legacy.
At Our Lady of the Valley Regional School, where Rett was a student before college, fundraising is well underway to create a legacy for her with the Grace Center, a $3 million gym and classroom complex.
The Uxbridge, Massachusetts, school in St. Mary's Parish, with just 200 students, hasn't had a gym or indoor recreation space, instead driving students once a week to another facility for phys. ed. classes and making other accommodations.
"It was tough never having a home game, but still, we were able to rally together wherever we want as a community," said her sister Brianne, who, like Grace, played basketball at OLV.
The Grace Center, short for the Grace Rett Athletic Complex and Education (GRACE) Center, would house gym classes, basketball practice, musical practices, religious retreats and more.
Two weeks before she died, Grace Rett set a world record in rowing. That triumph made the ensuing tragedy even harder to bear. The Retts say the OVL community took them in their arms.
"Some of these kids waited in line at her wake of 3,000 people," said her mother, Mary Jo Rett.
Grace’s father, Chris Rett, puts the effort to build the Grace Center this way: "My job of providing and guiding Grace is over. So now it's our job to keep her legacy and her spirit alive. So hopefully the gym will be a reminder of who she was and she can continue to inspire people."
An anonymous donor has promised to match donations for the center up to $1 million.