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Grace Lovegrove brought joy and irrepressibility to whatever she did, whether acting as church counselor for young kids, pitching for her recreational softball team, running cross country, or playing with her brother, Spencer. She found something to smile or laugh about even in down times.

Grace wasn’t just a runner, but it was important to her. Inspired by her uncle, David Lovegrove, she started road races and then track in sixth grade. When she moved on to Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Va., she was further encouraged by such coaches as Butch Lewis, Chad Cox, and James Earl Jones, who was also her Uncle David’s first track coach years earlier. She could always hear Jones’ booming voice, “That’s not running, Lovegrove, that’s jogging.”

Grace led the PH cross country and distance teams her last two years and was co-captain of the cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams her senior year (2003-04). She earned 12 varsity letters at PH and was an honor student.

As a co-captain (with long-time running friend Lizzie Pack), she not only helped lead training runs, but she also snuck the team off for an unauthorized visit to the local snow cone shack or sat and talked with the freshmen about dealing with high school. Competitors remembered her easy smile and nervous banter at the starting line.

Grace loved a lot of things. Cats, her church community, singing, drawing, writing poetry, Cheerwine soda, Joy Explosion camp, Ragged Mountain Running Camp, flying June bugs on a string, the X-Men, and roller coasters. She delighted in trips to Louisiana, where she visited her long-distance friend, Kate, and devoured beignets, gumbo, and crawfish.

But running was important enough to her that she chose college based partly on whether she could run there (it also had to have a marine biology program). Grace found what she was looking for at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., and in Coach Keith Maurer. She quickly made friends and continued to bring smiles to her teammates. In her first semester at CNU, she earned second team conference honors in cross country and was an honors student.

Grace had almost finished an “easy” 10-mile practice run with an indoor track teammate on her first day back from Christmas break when she collapsed in the street from what would later be identified as sudden cardiac arrest caused by an unexplained electrical problem. Emergency room doctors and nurses restored a heartbeat and blood pressure, but Grace died two days later on January 12, 2005. She was just 18.

Grace often thought of others, and from a relatively early age had vowed to be an organ donor if possible, an idea planted and encouraged by her mother. Four Virginians received her kidneys, liver, and pancreas. One of those recipients wrote to say that she hoped the transplant would allow her to have children.