GRACE FIRESTONE, TOWER HILL '11, UD HONORS BIO '15
Grace's story News Journal (DE) 4/8/12
Grace Firestone, Tower Hill School, 2011, was selected as a 2012 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
The award was created to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics. Gracie - one of eight recipients from across the country - was the winner of Eastern Section 2,
In Delaware, November 2012, she was honored with the Youth in Philanthropy Award by the Brandywine Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
An elite high school athlete, Gracie earned 15 varsity letters and garnered All-state honors in all of her three sports, including 3 time 1st Team All State soccer. Grace was a 6-time sports captain and maintained a 3.93 GPA. She was student body president her senior year. She created community service projects, including “Let the Kids Play,” which later would raise thousands of dollars for her adopted orphanage in Kenya.
On the night of June 6, 2011, just two days after graduating from Tower Hill, Grace went to her mother’s room. "I don't feel well." Seconds later she collapsed on the bed. Her heart stopped. Her mother called 911. Her brother Grant administered CPR during the four minutes before the New Castle County (DE) EMS arrived. NCC Officer Justison was first on the scene, directing the incoming emergency personnel. (Officer Justison was later to visit Gracie in the hospital several times. The EMS team visited as well.)
Gracie was paddled 6 times. The EMS team drilled into her shin to gain access to the veins that were shutting down. Gracie’s heart stopped three times. On the way to Christiana Hospital she stopped breathing.
An hour later, in an ER room, a doctor got on his knee in front of Gracie's family. "There's a good chance we will lose her". Gracie was put on a ventilator and coma was induced.
There was no permanent damage. Ten days later she walked out the door of Christiana with an implanted defibrillator. Grace had a few months of cognitive and physical rehab and began working out. That September she entered University of Delaware in the Honors Program in Biology. Her doctor warned about engaging in contact sports. But these were the sports in which she thrived in high school. Gracie chose to live her own life.
“Once I realized I was OK, I was frustrated with people telling me I wasn’t OK, That gave me the inspiration to do something drastic to show I was physically and mentally able.” On Christmas Day, 2012, Grace left for Africa. and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. As part of the trek, she was asked to raise $8,000 for Flying Kites, a charity which runs an orphanage near Nairobi, Kenya. From dozens of supporters she surpassed that goal by $2,000.
The cardiologist who implanted he r defiib said, " I really would prefer you not play contact sports". "Prefer" to Grace was the operative word.
Entering UD as an Honors Bio major that fall, she played center mid position for UD Club Soccer all four years, helping to take them to Club Nationals each of them.
Through the efforts of State Sens. Cathy Cloutier, Bethany Hall-Long and Kevin Charles of the DIAA (DE Interscholastic Athletic Assoc.), The Grace Firestone Act was passed regarding training and education of coaches and referees on August 25 2014
Grace one of 8 nationally awarded by Nat'l Fed of State High School Associations' "Spirit of Sport Award"
Grace speaking before the national conference of NFHS in New Orleans in 2015
DELAWARE TODAY: May 2013: University of Delaware Sophomore Gracie Firestone Beats Death, Launches Charity, and Climbs Mount Kilimanjaro
In the full circle of life, Grace is now in her 2nd year at Sydney Kimmel Medical College, part of Thomas Jefferson U.
Greer Firestone. Founder and Director