LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Less than two years after the unexpected death of a local first grader, her family and favorite teacher joined forces to raise thousands of dollars through a scholarship in her name.
Six-year-old Maria José Gonzalez-Vazquez passed away suddenly in December 2017 after contracting Meningitis.
Just months later, her family and teacher channeled their grief into an amazing gift.
Working with her former school, Oran K. Gragson Elementary, they started a scholarship in her name.
“To honor her life and to keep her memory alive,” said Kevin Flynn, Gragson Elementary teacher, “because I want not only my children, but the children that come through Gragson to know about her.”
8 News Now first met Flynn and Maria José’s family in February of 2019, when these scholarship efforts had just started.
Since then, they’ve awarded $5,750 to nine former Gragson Elementary School students, helping them achieve their dreams through higher education.
“It’s comforting in a way because you truly feel that she lives on through all this,” said Ivan Gonzalez, Maria José’s brother.
Maria José may be gone, but her impact will always be felt through this movement.
“We will do all we can to support them,” Flynn said of any Maria José Scholarship recipients. “All the way through college so they can achieve their dreams.”
Those who loved her say the work they’ve done is a way to show everyone where her heart will always belong.
“You’re helping people,” Maria José’s sister Karla said, speaking directly to her. “Even if you’re not here, you’re helping people, and I hope she knows that.”
The Maria José Gonzalez-Vazquez Scholarship is always accepting donations. Friends and family have also held both virtual and in-person fundraisers.
Family members have also started a clothing line to raise money for the cause. For more information, click here.
For more information on the scholarship, click here.
To make a donation through the Public Education Foundation, click here.
To make a donation through GoFundMe, click here.
To view 8 News Now’s original story on Maria José, click here.