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Brooklet couple faces the unimaginable as newlyweds battle brain tumor

Newlyweds Zach and Gracie Clifton are awaiting results and remaining strong in the midst of tremendous uncertainty. The couple recently learned of a 3.5cm brain tumor that will have an immediate impact on their lives, and they are grateful for the love and support of their community.
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Gracie and Zach CLifton

Zach and Gracie Clifton (née Albright) were married just a little over a year ago and have been enjoying the early days of their marriage, settling into busy careers, and even adopting a puppy, Harley, in June of last year.

They were married on October 22, 2022, after becoming college sweethearts at the University of Georgia. Zach, a Brooklet native, attended Georgia Southern University for one year prior to transferring to UGA to study Agricultural Communications.

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Zach spent his early years in Brooklet actively involved in the community and in his school, participating in a variety of sports and local events. Zach became known for his passion for running, which could have ended following a dramatic injury during high school, but instead he channeled it into opportunities to coordinate local running events, including The Peanut Run 5k, part of the Brooklet Peanut Festival, and launching Up and Running Media Company while he was in college.

Now they are facing news that no one, certainly not the young and healthy couple or their families, expected:

“In December 2023, Gracie had a seizure that landed her in the ER. To everyone’s disbelief, the doctors found a 3.5-centimeter tumor in her brain. This was the first symptom revealing the tumor in an otherwise healthy young woman,” says the couple’s gofundme page.

After undergoing a craniotomy in mid-January, Gracie was again admitted to the hospital and is working to regain strength and balance on her left side. She will not be able drive for the next six months.

Gracie is employed at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta - Scottish Rite Hospital, where she works with patients who have traumatic brain injuries in the Comprehensive In-Patient Rehab Unit. The transition from caregiver to patient has been particularly hard on her due to her close professional contact with children with brain tumors, shared Clifton.

Zach, Gracie, and their families are now awaiting the results of her pathology report in order to plan their next steps, but through the fear and uncertainty they remain strong and filled with faith:

“Advent took on a whole new meaning this year. Waiting for the Savior, waiting for surgery, waiting for answers. Waiting is hard, but I know there is purpose in it,” Gracie shared in a December post on Facebook, “I am learning more about gratitude each day and that I’m right where I need to be. Feeling so blessed to have family and friends who love me through this difficult time. 2024 brings new challenges: brain surgery, healing, and recovery but I am making room for joy and peace.”

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Zach and Gracie at the Brooklet Peanut Festival 5K in 2023. Photo used with permission

The Cliftons are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of love and support from the community during this challenging time. If you would like to support the Cliftons, their gofundme link is https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-gracie-and-zach-clifton.

All funds will go to the Cliftons to support their financial needs including hospital bills, specialist visits, transportation and food expenses.

UPDATE: 

The Cliftons are so grateful for the gifts, prayers, and contributions they have received! They have arranged for donations to be mailed to their home church (address listed below).

Checks can be addressed to Zach Clifton and mailed to the following address:

ATTN: Zach & Gracie Clifton
Brooklet United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 296 
Brooklet, Georgia 30415

If you would like to reach out to offer support or arrange a contribution, please email Zach at zachclifton99@gmail.com