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Bringing a community together to help families deal with difficult times

Monday, December 16, 2019

2019 National Honoree | Grace Beal of New Castle, Pennsylvania

“I loved my sister Lucy very much. She was the sweetest baby, even though she had a lot of medical issues that meant she would spend long periods of time in the hospital,” remembered Grace Beal.

Her family was turned upside down by the death of little Lucy. Grace felt alone. She was in second grade and didn’t know what to do with her grief. But she did know she wanted to keep the memory of Lucy alive.

Raising money and hope

In elementary school, Grace payed homage to Lucy with fundraisers on or around Lucy’s birthday, October 24. In seventh grade, Grace decided to get her basketball teammates involved. Together, they collected donations for layups and raised almost $6,000. Grace saw the potential to do even more.

Grace launched Layups for Lucy, which quickly became one of the most anticipated events at her school. Planning is a year-round effort. The event has expanded to have a carnival atmosphere, with performers, games and prizes. As the event grew, so did donations. The money raised by Layups for Lucy goes to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Supportive Care department, which offers palliative care services that are not often covered by insurance and that had been helpful to Lucy.

In 2017, the area’s only bereavement camp for siblings opened, Camp Wakchazi. Each summer about 50 siblings attend. Layups for Lucy became one of the main sponsors.

“Being able to help to start a camp where kids like me who felt alone and different because their sister or brother had died makes me so proud. When I hear them tell their stories, I know that all of our work is making a difference,” said Grace.

From community to family

Grace has helped bring her community closer together, inspiring greater giving. The Layups for Lucy summer meeting added a lawn game tournament fundraiser. That money went to a scholarship in honor of a classmate who died in the spring of 2018. Grace is proud of the effect she’s had.

“It takes a lot of hard work and devotion, but people want to help and are willing to follow if you are willing to lead.”