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Parents share message to 'love like Grace' after grieving their daughter's drowning


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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

OGDEN — Grace Grunander's parents say she was born with a heart condition, but she had no shortage of love for others.

We're seeing that now around town, with ribbons and wristbands reminding people to love like Grace.

Megan and Todd Grunander say their daughter was all about making sure everyone felt included and cared for.

She loved giving out friendship bracelets, which is why her mom put out the request that people make pink and purple ones to hand out and for people to wear to Grace's viewing and funeral.

Grace Grunander died Friday at an Ogden swimming pool and the case is "still being investigated as an apparent drowning," police said Monday. "Investigators are looking into a possible medical event that may have contributed. The official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner's office."

The Grunanders say they're amazed by the community's response to make friendship bracelets, and to tie ribbons and leave signs in memory of Grace's kindness around nearby neighborhoods.

Despite her short life, they believe kindness will be her legacy.

"It's so easy to say something cruel or to tease a child, but it's so unnecessary. And Grace never did anything like that. So if we could just be more kind, that's going to be our 'why' moving forward."

Grace also loved singing, and was involved in a local show choir. Her parents say she wanted to find a way to pay the fees and make sure friends who couldn't afford it but wanted to could also join that choir.

If a life is measured by the impact left behind Grace Grunander's was big. "For me, she changed my life," Todd Grunander said. "She's the one that taught me to be a parent."

"She was just born with just this special innate way to make people feel loved, and make them know that she cared about them," Megan Grunander said.

They say she tried to make everyone feel included, and loved making and sharing friendship bracelets.

And responding to mom's request, dozens of people have been making them too; to be handed out at Grace's viewing and funeral this weekend.

"It lightens your heart a little bit to see the impression that your child was able to leave on so many people," Megan Grunander said.

And more than healing, the Grunanders are hopeful that through Grace and her message people can encourage others to be just a little bit better.

"In this past few days, people that I didn't even know she knew have reached out and said, 'I just want to tell you how special a girl Grace was,'" Todd Grunander said.

The Grunanders have a memorial account set up at America First Credit Union, but it's not for them.

They want to raise money for a scholarship, so that while she didn't get to go to college, others will be able to in her name.

They plan to work with the Weber School Foundation to set up the fund.

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Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.

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