My Dance with Grace: Reflections on Death and Life

by Weldon Bradshaw

Late in 2009, Weldon Bradshaw was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, an incurable, autoimmune liver condition. Over the next two and a half years, as the disease progressed slowly and his liver and health deteriorated, his prognosis grew bleak. By November of 2012, his doctor informed him that if he didn’t receive a transplant, he’d be dead within the week.

Through it all, Weldon remained steadfast to the promise he’d made his family at the outset of his illness: he would be there to dance at his granddaughter’s wedding.

A high school cross country coach and lifelong athlete, Weldon was accustomed to tests of endurance, spirit, and drive. But nothing could have prepared him for this—the race of his life. It would be a race against time and chance and hopelessness in the face of devastating odds. It would be a race for a miracle.

“. . . When we talk about our commitment to human health and to catalyzing the human experience, it is with people like Weldon Bradshaw in mind.”

Michael Rao, Ph.D., President,
Virginia Commonwealth University
and VCU Health System

“I have taken care of people and dealt with the ill and dying since 1980, and I have never read a more accurate or more beautiful, poetic account of defying death!”

Dr. Robert A. Fisher, Surgical Director,
Hume-Lee Transplant Center,
Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center


Weldon Bradshaw has worked at Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia, since 1972, as a teacher, administrator, and coach, primarily of cross country and track.

Since 1970, he has been a freelance reporter covering mainly sports for the Richmond News Leader, then the Times-Dispatch. Since 2001, he has written a weekly column entitled “Reflections” for the Collegiate website (

He and his wife Emily, who is also a teacher at Collegiate, live in western Henrico County and have four adult children and four grandchildren.