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Family, friends remember Grace Audrey McDonnell

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NEWTOWN, CT (WFSB) -

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where on Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six adults lost their lives, Eyewitness News will share a little about each person's life and how their families are honoring their legacies.

Grace Audrey McDonnell was one of the 20 children who lost their lives that day. Grace was a gentle soul and her favorite symbol was the peace sign. She made the world just a little more beautiful, every time she picked up a paint brush.

Grace had a passion for painting. Her work was whimsical and bursting with color. Her art reflected the way she lived her life, with joy.

"She dreamed of becoming a painter," said President Barack Obama during an interfaith vigil following the shooting.

President Obama met with Grace's parents, Lynn and Chris McDonnell in Newtown last December. During the visit, the McDonnells presented the president with one of Grace's paintings, which was a stunning rendition of an owl. The painting now hangs in the White House.

"I hung it in my private study just off the Oval Office," Obama said. "And every time I look at that painting, I think about Grace. And I think about the life she lived and the life that lay ahead of her."

At just 7 years old, Grace had a plan for that life. She loved Martha's Vineyard. Her dream was to become a painter and live on Martha's Vineyard.

Grace is remembered at the Children's Memorial in Edgartown. Near the base of the Edgartown Lighthouse, her name is carved in a cobblestone, which is not far from the beach where she spent so many happy summers.

Lynn McDonnell told Eyewitness News it was fitting to have Grace's name at the Edgartown Lighthouse. Her mother said Grace was "the love and the light of our family." She was "amazing, grace" and "a young girl who made the world a little brighter."  

A fund has been established in Grace's name, through the Fairfield County Community Foundation.

The McDonnells plan to establish scholarships to help other artists follow their dreams.

For more information on or to register for The Grace McDonnell Memorial Fund, by clicking here or by calling Eyewitness News at 1-866-539-9372 for a mailing address.

Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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