Kiera Smith: Burke HS grad turns tragedy into triumph

Local News

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) A Burke High School senior is preparing for her mother’s funeral while also preparing for her high school graduation.

Kiera Smith,19, was in the midst of enjoying her senior year of high school after battling with some tough times. Smith says it was her mother’s support and encouragement that got her through her high school years.  

“I just wanted my mom to see me walk across that stage,” Smith said. “If it wasn’t for her I would not be where I am today, which is graduating.”

Last week, Smith’s mother died after suffering from a stroke. It was just one week before Smith would graduate from Burke High School.

“When I found out my mom died I was devastated,” Smith said. I could barely breathe and I could not sleep at night. I lost my twin, so half of my heart is like broken.

Smith attended her graduation at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center Friday at 3:30 p.m. Hours after she walked across the stage at 7 p.m., Smith had to attend her mother’s wake service. Through the pain, Smith is still managing to smile.

“I’m not letting that get to me, so I’m very excited for graduation,” she said.

Smith sat down with News 2 only Friday and shared some of her fondest memories with her mother.

“I remember when she would come in my room and wake me up for school because I am not a morning person and she would say you are going to school whether it’s rain, sunshine or snowing,” Smith said. Before she died she was very excited because I bought her a shirt to wear for graduation and she was like where’s my shirt? I was like it’s coming mama.

Although her mom was in the audience wearing the shirt Smith bought her, the shirt was there and so was her mother’s spirit.

“I know she was there and I know she was screaming,” Smith said.

Smith’s two sisters, family, friends and the community all supported her during graduation. The crowed soared when her name was called to receive her high school diploma. One person in the crowd screaming was Delhman Drayton.

“I have a heart for people,” Drayton said.

Drayton’s heart led him to write a Facebook post a few days ago after Smith’s mother passed asking the community to help Kiera during this trying time.  

“All I did was ask her sister for a picture of Kiera, I wrote the story and boom, it’s gone viral,” Drayton said. The post has garnered more than 7,000 shares and people across the world have messaged Drayton to see how they can help.

“God just laid it on my heart for me to do something for her,” he said. When Drayton said he felt like he actually did something, Smith said, “you did do something.”

As a result of Drayton’s post, Kiera was able to get her hair done for graduation, she received an outfit from a stylist and a makeup artist, De’Aidre Heyward, came to do her makeup before graduation.

“I’m grateful to just really be here and be a part of this for her,” Heyward  said.

Many others have sent Kiera and her family money, various tokens of love and words of encouragement. Kiera said it has been that support that has kept her smiling.

“I feel like if you look at my story and see how I’m graduating and my mom died last Friday,” Smith said. ”It’s effecting me, but it’s not really effecting me because I have so much support.

That support is coming from her best friend, classmates, her teachers, people in the community, family, friends and most importantly, her mom who is watching over her.

“I know that I have my family because they won’t let me fall,” Smith said.

Smith’s mother’s funeral is Saturday. Friends and family will also celebrate Kiera’s graduation on Sunday. Kiera plans to attend Trident Technical College in the fall and will one day become a social worker. She said she wants to help children who are in need. As many could imagine, although graduation is over, Kiera is still going through a rough time. If you are interested in helping Kiera on her journey, click here to contact Delhman Drayton.

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