FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Hundreds of students and staff at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg gathered on Thursday to celebrate a woman known simply as ‘Amazing Grace.’
“Everyone who works here loves her. We all know who Grace is. Amazing Grace is what we call her, and I actually got to know her on the golf course,” UMW President Dr. Troy Paino told WJLA.
In fact, Paino admits Grace Anne Braxton would embarrass him if they played against each other.
“I’m a 9.2 handicap. I’ve been playing golf for maybe 20 years after high school,” Braxton said.
Braxton had just returned from the Special Olympics World Games in the United Arab Emirates. She was returning a hero, as she won silver in golf.
And she had no idea this celebration was being held in her honor.
“It meant the whole world to me. It made me feel really happy, and I didn’t even know a clue about it,” Braxton said.
Braxton is especially close with the guys on the men’s basketball team, who call her their number one fan. When they asked to see her silver medal, she told them why she keeps it close to her.
“I keep it in my bag all the time, so I can wear it. Sometimes when you keep medals in your bag, you don’t lose them and this is something I don’t want to lose for a while,” Braxton said.
This isn’t Braxton’s first medal. Amazing Grace has ascended four times to the podium at the World Games. She has 700 other medals at home.
Braxton says the way she’s treated at Mary Washington — with kindness and respect — gives her the confidence to perform on the highest of athletic stages and to return not to a job, but to a home.
“It made me feel like I belong in this community, I belong in this college and I love it here. And I won’t leave it for anything in the world because this is my home,” Braxton said.