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Cheslie Kryst memorial fund launches

The Cheslie C. Kryst Memorial Fund for Mental Health aims to honor her legacy and provide help and hope to others experiencing mental health challenges.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The family of Cheslie Kryst, the late former Miss USA and Charlotte native who died by suicide last January, is partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) to launch the Cheslie C. Kryst Memorial Fund for Mental Health in honor of the first anniversary of her death. 

The Cheslie C. Kryst Memorial Fund for Mental Health aims to provide help to those facing mental health challenges.

The fund was first announced earlier this month at the Miss Universe pageant by Kryst’s mom, April Simpkins, who spoke about her late daughter.

“Cheslie dealt with high-functioning depression,” Simpkins said. “The Cheslie you saw didn’t always match the way she felt inside. Just because someone tells you they’re fine, doesn’t mean they are.”

The newly created fund begins Monday.

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“We are honored to launch the Cheslie C. Kryst Memorial Fund for Mental Health,” Dan Gillison, the CEO for NAMI, said. “In celebrating the life of Miss Kryst, we are also aiming to help others with resources and support for their mental health.”

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Kryst was a Charlotte native crowned Miss USA in 2019. She worked closely with the community including the Charlotte-based Dress for Success.  

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"Cheslie was one of the most effervescent people I ever met… she was always positive, she was always ready to take on the next task," Kerry Barr O'Connor, the executive director of Dress for Success, told WCNC Charlotte previously.

Dress for Success has now created the Cheslie Kryst Woman's Advancement Fund to support more ladies in their employment journey. 

Wake Forest University has also created the Cheslie Kryst Diversity and Social Justice Law Scholarship.

Kryst was an attorney who fought for social justice and was also a host on the syndicated entertainment news show "Extra."

She died in New York City at the age of 30.

If you or a loved one are facing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there is help readily available. You can call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or chat with them online. There are also resources in North Carolina available here and in South Carolina available here.

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