Rebekah Grace "Gracie" Kiltz went home to Jesus on September 8, 2018, surrounded by the singing voices of her beloved family and friends. Gracie was born to John and Erin Kiltz on May 17, 1992, the youngest of three children. Despite being born with Down's Syndrome, Gracie set her sights on keeping up with her sister, Emily, and brother, Riley, spending her precocious little years roaming the countryside in Hockley, Texas.
At the age of two, Gracie was diagnosed with leukemia, which she fought with joy and courage. At three, she suffered a severe brain injury that would drastically alter the remaining years of her life. Doctors told Gracie's family that she would never smile again, but during Thanksgiving week 1995, Gracie's smile returned--a smile that would brighten the lives of thousands in the decades to come.
In 1997, inspired by Gracie's perseverance during her leukemia treatment and the beautiful circle of support that surrounded her and their family during that time, Gracie's parents founded His Grace Foundation. HGF provides physical, emotional, and financial support to patients and families on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit of Texas Children's Hospital.
In 2004, Gracie's family moved to Georgetown, Texas. In 2010, Gracie was elected Homecoming Queen by her Georgetown High School classmates, a story covered by ABC World News. As it often did, Gracie's wheelchair sported custom spoke guard covers for her crowning. Everything sparkled that night--Gracie's smile, her shoes, and her wheel covers.
In 2011, the Kiltz family founded Brookwood in Georgetown (BiG), an innovative vocational community that creates meaningful work, builds a sense of belonging and validates dignity and respect for adults with disabilities. Gracie loved to work in the BiG kitchen chopping strawberries, pulling down the dishwasher door, and lifting up lace to see the patterns forming on pottery.
Gracie's vibrant personality that began in childhood persisted throughout her young adult years. When friends and family gathered, Gracie would give each person in the room her signature "boo-boo lip" until they showered her with kisses. She loved to grab hands away from pianos and pull hair to turn faces toward hers. On Sunday mornings, Gracie sang along to worship music with joyous shouts of praise.
From skiing in Crested Butte, Colorado to traipsing about New York City, Gracie delighted in adventure. She smiled brightly and laughed loudly while tubing on the lake, rafting rapids, and riding horses. Perhaps most of all, Gracie loved to dance at home with her family, at the rec center, and at Night to Shine.
Every Friday for the past fourteen years, Gracie rode horses at ROCK. Almost every Saturday, you could find Gracie at the bowling alley. For her 25th birthday, friends and family from all over the country joined Gracie on the dance floor for hours of sweet celebration.
Gracie's life, while full of suffering and hardship, was all the more full of love and dignity that she never failed to give to others as well. Loving survivors include Gracie's parents, John and Erin Kiltz, older sister Emily and husband Luke and their sons Caleb and Elias, older brother Riley and wife Emily and their daughters Talitha and Faye.
A Celebration of Life service will be held on September 22nd at 3 p.m. at Georgetown Church of Christ, followed by a reception and BiG dance party at the Sheraton Georgetown.
A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to DANCE. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:4
In lieu of flowers, the Kiltz family would be honored if donations were sent to Brookwood in Georgetown at 905 N. Church St. Georgetown, TX 78626 or online at http://brookwoodingeorgetown.org/.