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'We feel her': Sister of 1 October victim gives back to children of those killed

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A plan for success was born out of tragedy.

It's called the Children of the 58 Scholarship Fund.

Since 1 October, Mynda Smith and her family have been dealing with the loss of her sister Neysa Tonks.

While they've been grieving her loss, they made sure that Neysa's sons and the children of 57 other victims would be taken care of when it comes to their education.

It's just one of the burdens they feel could be lifted as they all heal from that devastating night in their own way.

"This is me and Neysa here," Mynda said while looking at one of their photos together.

Mynda is a photographer at heart, but there are specific pictures that are a lot more personal over the last five years, including those of her late sister Neysa.

She is one of the 58 killed the night of the 1 October mass shooting, that forever shook the community and the families who were never able to say goodbye.

"The emotions are there and you're still very raw," said Mynda. "But I think you just kind of learn to just bottle it up a little bit better and kind of compartmentalize it until you have to you know, have to come out again."

It has been a long road for Mynda and her parents Chris and Debbie Davis.

"I remember the first anniversary when my dad met another dad that had lost his daughter," said Mynda tearfully. "And you know, the hug between two dads, you can't - you know that's something that you just need to heal and to and to know you're not alone."

And since then, families of the victims have continued to cope with their losses together.

For Mynda and her parents, honoring Neysa meant helping not only her three sons but also the children of the other victims.

So, they created the Children of the 58 Scholarship Fund in partnership with the Public Education Foundation and raised $320,000.

"The small gift that we were able to do," said Mynda. "I just hope that that can take off just a little bit of a burden for them."

Under the scholarship, 55 recipients receive up to $6,000 each to go towards college or a trade school.

"We've had a few kids already go to high school to college or to a you know, trade school and to be able to know that we have some just small hand in their future," said Mynda.

Two of those children are Neysa's sons Braxton and Greysen.

While Neysa isn't here to see her sons' accomplishments and the efforts by her family to give back, Mynda knows she would be proud.

"We feel her. And we feel that you know these kids to see them in such a beautiful way is to see my sister and to see her joy and love that she wanted for them to be educated," said Mynda. "And, I know these other parents that you know, are right there with her."

Scholarships for 1 October dependents through the Public Education Foundation do not end there.

The Vegas Strong Compassion scholarship gives up to $18,000 for dependents of people who lost their lives that day.

The Helping Hands Scholarship provides up to $10,000 for people affected by 1 October.

There are also scholarships for dependents of first responders and students who want to become first responders.

That is up to $10,000.

"Scholarships represent hope. They represent hope that you can make a better life for yourself and for your family by attending post-secondary school," said Kirsten Searer, president of the Public Education Foundation. "And is there any time that we needed more hope than after 1 October? It's a beautiful investment in the dependents of people who lost their lives. It's a beautiful investment of people who were inspired by the events to work as first responders in the community."

So far the Public Education Foundation has given out $530,000 in 1 October scholarships.

That's out of $2-million raised in total, including the Children of the 58 Scholarship Fund.

And they continue to raise funds.

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PEF is launching $5-million in scholarships on 1 October, scholarships for anyone including students who've gone through trauma, or high achieving students for example.

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