(WGHP) — Krista Smith was the type of person who made life fun.
“She was a good friend. She was a comedian. She was a cheerleader at Western Guilford,” said Caeleb Smith, Krista’s older brother. “She was a pain in my butt sometimes. She was one of the biggest lights in my life at the same time.”
Krista had type 1 diabetes, which is a disease she lived with and managed for years. But on Nov. 5, during her senior year at Western Guilford, she died from complications of the disease. Smith turned his heartbreak into action creating a foundation in Krista’s name.
“I know when everything happened, I was looking around figuring out how I needed to navigate life,” Smith said. “And this was it for me. It gave me a sense of purpose.”
The Krista Smith Foundation aims to advocate for the type 1 diabetes community, raise money for research and empower type 1 diabetes students through a yearly scholarship.
“The goal is to alleviate some of the financial hardship for some of these families,” Smith said. “If we can alleviate that from an academia standpoint and allow them to use that money for something else like insulin and other diabetic supplies, that’s really the big goal for us. We want to make a difference in these lives.”
Lourdes Lopez applied last year and learned she won the scholarship during her graduation at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School. She’s now a rising sophomore at Wake Forest University.
“I’ve always wanted to be an endocrinologist, but it’s pushed me to go through with pre-med,” Lopez said. “I think what they’re doing is great, and I want to help people like Krista lead a good and healthy life with diabetes.”
While Lopez never got to meet Krista, she is determined to carry on her legacy and thankful for the lifelong friendship she’s found in her family.
“We don’t want it to be just something that someone gets and says, ‘Oh, this is all that it is,'” Smith said. “We want … Krista and her light to carry on. We want it to grow and flourish and change lives.”
The Krista Smith Foundation is accepting applications through May 30, and the organization encourages any high school senior with type 1 diabetes planning to attend a 2- or 4-year college to apply.