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‘A little piece of her here’: Legacy of Grace Rett, Holy Cross student killed in crash, to live on through athletic and education center

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 and was cited by police.

Weeks before the crash, Grace had broken a world record for indoor rowing. Suddenly, a time of celebration turned into an immeasurable tragedy for her family, friends and teammates at the Worcester college’s campus.

Holy Cross student Grace Rett killed in Florida van crash

Inside the Hart Center at the Luth Athletic Complex at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester there was a Concept2 indoor rower surrounded with flowers in memory of Rett.

“It’s not easy getting up every morning but knowing that Grace would want us to get up and keep living our lives and being active is what really keeps me going,” said Grace’s sister Brianne Rett, who also attended Our Lady of the Valley Regional School. Mary Jo Rett is also a music teacher at the school.

Grace was incredibly funny, Mary Jo Rett said, had no filter and wouldn’t do anything halfway. Mary Jo Rett remembers family road trips and looking at colleges together. Grace would always need a nice hotel room, Mary Jo Rett recalled as the family sat at Our Lady of the Valley together Wednesday, remembering Grace with laughter and moments where tears started to well up in their eyes.

For Brianne Rett, fond memories are

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

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 and was cited by police.

Weeks before the crash, Grace had broken a world record for indoor rowing. Suddenly, a time of celebration turned into an immeasurable tragedy for her family, friends and teammates at the Worcester college’s campus.

“It’s not easy getting up every morning but knowing that Grace would want us to get up and keep living our lives and being active is what really keeps me going,” said Grace’s sister Brianne Rett, who also attended Our Lady of the Valley Regional School. Mary Jo Rett is also a music teacher at the school.

Grace was incredibly funny, Mary Jo Rett said, had no filter and wouldn’t do anything halfway. Mary Jo Rett remembers family road trips and looking at colleges together. Grace would always need a nice hotel room, Mary Jo Rett recalled as the family sat at Our Lady of the Valley together Wednesday, remembering Grace with laughter and moments where tears started to well up in their eyes.

For Brianne Rett, fond memories are ones of shopping and going to the movies, a day taking photos at a sunflower farm and driving to and from Marianapolis Preparatory School in Connecticut, where they attended high