Heather Heyer's mother honors daughter through foundation

The Heather Heyer foundation was started nine days after her death

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The white nationalist who organized the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville will hold a similar event this weekend. 

The National Park Service approved Jason Kessler's permit request for Sunday in Washington, D.C.

Nearly one year after Heather Heyer was killed by a car plowing into a crowd during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, her mother continues fighting for the same causes Heyer was fighting for that fateful day.

"I didn't get to choose whether or not I gave her up, but I do get to choose how i respond afterward," said Susan Bro, Heyer's mother and the co-founder of the Heather Heyer Foundation. 

For Bro, that decision came just nine days after her daughter's death.

She saw the outpouring of support from people across the country, and hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to her family.

Not knowing how to handle all that money, she went to Heyer's former boss, Alfred Wilson, for advice.

"The first thing I thought about was Heather encouraging my daughter about school and education and loving to talk to young people. So, I said, 'Susan, this is what we do. We set up a foundation,'" said Wilson, executive director and co-founder of the Heather Heyer Foundation.

Since then, Bro and Wilson have run the Heather Heyer Foundation out of the small office where Heyer used to work.

They partnered with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to award five scholarships to teenagers who demonstrated standing up against hate.

The Heather Heyer Foundation has also awarded scholarships to three local high schoolers with bigger plans for the future. 

"In five years, to be able to pay someone, some child's full tuition to go to school, that way we know for sure that we can say, 'okay, Heather, we're going to make sure this kid actually gets the education that they should be getting." 

"Scholarships only help maybe a handful of kids a year. We'd like to help empower and train as positive, nonviolent social activists, a lot of people."

Bro says that's how Heyer tried to make a change. That's how she died, and that's how she'll make sure her legacy lives on. 

"But if I make a ripple, and other people make a ripple, you get a little bit of a wave. And if you get enough waves, you get a tsunami effect, and that's what we need -- some tsunamis of change."

Bro plans to roll out those youth empowerment programs in the coming weeks. They're also hoping to create an endowment so the Heather Heyer Foundation can live on for years to come. 

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