We are so excited to unveil our August Hand Camp HEROES nominee, Grace McClelland! Our HEROES have been identified and nominated by their fellow campers, or other members of the Hands to Love community for the work they are doing to further the mission and vision of the organization. Hand Camp HEROES all have certain characteristics in common: Heart, Empower, Resilient, Optimistic, Embrace, and Selfless.

Our HEROES review committee reviews each submission to ensure the nominee meets the criteria. Once a month, we will feature a Hand Camp HERO on this page, as well as on our social media and in our newsletter. We are so excited to share the stories of all our HEROES!

Hero’s Name:

Grace McClelland

Affiliation with Hands to Love:

Longtime camper and Hands to Love Newsletter co-editor

Nominated By:

Ruthie Dell & Carly Thibault

How does Grace exemplify the qualities of Hand Camp HEROES?

Heart – they’re full of it.

Grace has been championing the cause of inclusion since she was a five year old! When a preschool classmate commented that she must be stupid because she had a stupid little hand, she went home and told her mother that she needed to “set him straight.” “Write this down! We need to make a book so kids will know what it’s like to have a special hand. Most kids know not to make fun of big differences like being blind or in a wheelchair, but they make fun of little things like short fingers or glasses. We need to help them understand.”

Empower – themselves or others.

From that [above] conversation came the book that Grace authored when she was five years old, “The Gift of Grace.” The book relays personal perspectives on her limb difference and has given her a platform from which to share her message of empowerment!

Resilient – they know how to get back up, time after time.

Through her positive response to that misinformed classmate’s teasing back in preschool, Grace decided to make something good out of a hurtful situation. Grace wrote,”Having a special hand-a small hand-makes me different. All people have differences. Patrick (my twin) wears glasses. That makes him different.” Grace responded constructively and changed the narrative!

Optimistic – they always see the silver lining.

Grace had several surgeries on her special hand as a little girl requiring time in casts and occupational therapy (O.T.) as she healed. Sometimes surgeries kept her from activities that she enjoyed like swimming in the summer but she relays in her book it was worth it! And through her experiences in O.T. seeds were planted and Grace has just started college with an undergraduate path to Occupational Therapy!

Embrace – anyone and any situation, no matter how challenging.

Grace is the poster girl for H2L’s mantra of “embrace your difference!” At a young age she recognized that the length of her fingers did not define her.

Selfless – always looking for ways to put others first.

Grace has inspired the “Tiny Tots” and their parents at hand camp by reading her book and has spoken publicly to school and civic groups through the years sharing her uplifting message of normalcy.

An additional note from Ruthie & Carly about Grace:

From Ruthie: In the summer of 2020 when virtual communication with our Hands to Love constituents has become more important than ever, Grace agreed to serve as one of the co-editors of the H2L Newsletter! We are so blessed to have her on our staff!

From Carly: I have had the privilege of working with Grace over the course of 2020, on our newsletter as well as other digital initiatives. The enthusiasm and professionalism she has shown throughout the process has been incredible! Grace gives every project 110% – and I am so excited to continue working with her.

If you know someone who exemplifies the traits of our Hand Camp Heroes, you can nominate them by clicking here!