Celebration of life held to honor Cheslie Kryst

CHARLOTTE — The family of Cheslie Kryst hosted a celebration of life for her at a Ballantyne church Friday evening.

Kryst, 30, died by suicide on Jan. 30 in New York City. The Charlotte native and former attorney was also crowned Miss USA in 2019. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina, where she was a track and field star.

[‘I didn’t want to believe it’: Friend and mentee of Cheslie Kryst expresses shock over her passing]

Everyone who spoke at Elevation Blakeney talked about her light and genuine heart for others.

Three organizations named a scholarship or fund in her honor.

Dress for Success organizers announced the Cheslie Kryst Women’s Advancement Fund.

There will be an annual scholarship for students of color at the Wake Forest School of Law.

Also, The Dean’s List said it will help a young woman of color pursue a career in media.

Before closing, Kryst’s mother, April Simpkins, issued a call to action.

“First, take care of your mental health,” Simpkins said. “Second, you need to take out your phones now, or you can do it sometime this evening, but add this number to your contacts: 800-273-8255.”

Simpkins said to type “Help” into the first name and “Suicide Prevention Hotline” for the company.

“Do this so that if you or someone you know is in crisis and having suicidal thoughts, you can call for help,” she said.

Simpkins urged others to honor her daughter by becoming an ally for a community that needs support.

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States.

The Lifeline is available for everyone, is free, and confidential. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

Channel 9 has a list of resources for anyone who may be struggling. You can find the county-by-county guide here.

In lieu of flowers, make a donation to Dress for Success, an organization that was dear to Kryst’s heart, her mother said.

The Charlotte affiliate of the organization shared with Channel 9 that Kryst volunteered at Dress for Success before she became Miss North Carolina, and it became a big part of her platform as Miss USA.

Dress for Success said its goal is to empower women to achieve upward mobility through economic independence and to strengthen their families.

The program supports women throughout the whole employment process, from providing interview outfits to financial education.

Channel 9′s Elsa Gillis spoke with Barr O’Connor, the executive director of the Charlotte affiliate, about Chelsie and the difference these donations will make.

“Chelsie, she just had such a bright light about her. And I think that that is something that everyone felt immediately when they met her. And while she’s no longer with us on earth, her impact is going to be far and wide for a very long time to come,” O’Connor said.

(WATCH BELOW: Charlotte native, former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst dies at 30, family says)