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Louisville mom starts foundation to help parents, families affected by gun violence

It's been just over two months since Candy Linear lost her daughter Nylah to gun violence. Now, she's making sure mothers in similar situations aren't alone.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Record gun violence numbers continue to plague Metro Louisville, playing a large part in 151 homicides -- including 21 children -- so far in 2021 according to LMPD data. Of those cases, 96 are still open.

One of the children killed this year was 16-year-old Nylah Linear. It's been just over two months since Candy Linear lost her daughter to gun violence. Now, she's making sure mothers in similar situations aren't alone.

"I was in a dark place. I'm still in that dark place, but I feel like the need is now," Linear said. "To provide services for mothers who are in crisis."

Linear announced the start of The Nylah Linear Foundation earlier in the week. On Thursday night, she hosted the group's first meeting at Spring Valley Funeral Home on E. Chestnut Street. The goal is to help grieving mothers who are in crisis, following the violent deaths of their children.

Kids were also in attendance -- siblings now missing a brother or sister.

Linear said the foundation will provide funeral services, offer free grief counseling and even food if they need it. And it's not limited to parents who lost a child recently.

RELATED: Grief counseling sessions available for west Louisville families

"Whether it's been recent or even if it's been years. It could be 10 years ago. Maybe she's having a bad day -- she's welcome," Linear said.

The first mother to take part was Sherita Smith. Her son Tyree, 16, was shot and killed at a school bus stop last week. His funeral is Saturday.

"Every day [now], I show up at her house. I don't even call, I just say, 'Hey,'" Linear said.

Smith is grieving herself, after a tragedy she called senseless.

"Trying to stop my 5-year-old from crying every night, wondering if his brother's coming home," Smith said.

Linear met Smith for the first time at the funeral home during an extremely vulnerable moment.

"When I was literally viewing my son, for the first time, and she came in and comforted me," Smith said.

Together they're sending a message, not just of support, but of demand that children cannot keep dying.

"It's mind-blowing to me how you can train your kids up, do everything you can, and they're still not safe," Linear said. "Until we get a grasp on it, unfortunately, we're going to keep losing our kids."

And while they wait for arrests to be made, and call for change, they'll be gathering in the meantime, mending each other's wounds.

Right now, Linear is funding the program through donations. For more information on The Nylah Linear Foundation, click here.

Contact reporter Isaiah Kim-Martinez at IKimMartin@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

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