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Legacy of Grace Rett, Holy Cross student killed in crash, to live on through athletic and education center

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Everything Grace Rett did in life was rooted in the Our Lady of the Valley Regional School, and Grace did a lot, from breaking a world record in rowing to signing and playing cello at church and going on adventures with her younger sister.

“Just from the minute she got here she loved school, the teachers … it’s like a magical place. It’s full of love and she was so well educated, so well prepared for high school and beyond, and her faith was nurtured,” Grace’s mother Mary Jo Rett recalled Wednesday, sitting with her family in the small Central Massachusetts school that made such a lasting impact for her daughter.

Grace attended Our Lady of the Valley in her hometown of Uxbridge from kindergarten through her eighth-grade graduation. Though the school shaped Grace into a woman with big ambitions, there was one thing missing: a gymnasium for basketball.

Now, about nine months since Grace’s life ended too soon, the Rett family is finding the strength to get up every day with memories of Grace and a mission to raise $1 million so that a state-of-the-art athletics and education facility can be built and named in Grace’s memory.

Everything changed for the Rett family on Jan. 15. Grace had just celebrated her 20th birthday the day before and was doing what she loved, getting ready to row with her College of the Holy Cross teammates. The women’s rowing team was in Florida for winter training ahead of the competitive season.

A van carrying Grace and a portion of the teammates turned left into an intersection in Vero Beach, slamming into a pickup truck. Holy Cross’ former rowing coach, Patrick Diggins, was driving. Grace succumbed to her injuries as several teammates were also injured in the collision. In February, Diggins retired