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Scholarship granted in memory of the two kids who died in the Vilonia storm



Vilonia, Arkansas – Tyler Smith was seven years old and Cameron Smith was nine when they were killed in the Vilonia tornado in 2014. Since then, their friends and family have given a scholarship to one Vilonia student annually in their memory.

Heather Burkle considers the day that permanently altered her family’s existence.

“It was very traumatic, and it was very sad,” Burkle said.

Almost ten years have passed since that day.

“I’ve seen God restore everything back to my sister piece by piece and our family is stronger,” Burkle said.

In memory of her nephews, Burkle’s family has been awarding a scholarship to a Vilonia High School graduate for the past ten years.

“They have to write an essay about a time in their life where they had to push through something very hard for them,” Burkle said.

Burkle claims that it is their method of bringing beauty out of ashes—a belief that the family has clung to for the past ten years.

But this year’s scholarship is more important because Burkle received assistance from the recipient during a difficult period in her life.

“I went through the Harbor Home for Women, and the scholarship that’s being given today, is a boy whose mom worked at the Harbor Home for Women,” Burkle said.

She expresses gratitude for each stride they have gone ahead since, saying that it is a complete circle moment—one that only God could make.

“God’s walked us through everything and it’s been very beautiful where we’re at today,” Burkle said.

Tyler would have graduated the following year, according to her, and the scholarship would be offered the following year and every year after that.

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