U of M scholarship created to honor Skylar Herbert, 5-year who died for COVID-19

There is not a day that goes by, Lavondria Herbert and her husband don’t think about their little girl, Skylar. 

“She was a great kid,” Lavondria said. “So much fun, funny. That keeps me smiling a lot and laughing.” 

Last March, the 5-year-old began complaining of a bad headache. The daughter of the first responders tested positive for COVID-19. 

“We never thought Skylar was going to pass away from the virus,” Lavondria said. “You know they kept saying the virus wasn’t bad on kids. We didn’t think she would pass away, just thought it would take some time.”

After developing rare complications and two weeks on a ventilator, Skylar became the first child in our state to die of COVID-19. 

“Just the anger and frustration and not understanding, why me? Lavondria said. “I waited until I was 41 to have my first child. I think that is one of the most difficult things - it’s not like I am having another baby, not like that would fill the void.”

Skylar’s death touched the hearts of people in Detroit and across the country. Her big smile and larger than life personality radiated through images. Her energy was felt all the why in Virginia by Bruce Hiler, who read Skylar’s story online. 

“She was standing there with her arms thrown up, big smile, sparkling eyes,” Bruce said. “Just a beautiful little girl. Everything on her body language was saying, here I am, I love life and I’m going to do something big in it.”

Bruce grew up in Michigan and attended law school at University of Michigan back in the 1970’s. He still feels connected to the people in our state, especially when he read about Skylar and he parents. 

Lavondria, a Detroit Police officer and her husband Ebbie, a Detroit Firefighter. 

I mean first responders,” Bruce said. “This is the example of an American family during a pandemic. I mean they lost someone and they’re still fighting, and they’re doing more than what most people are doing because they’re right on the frontlines.”

Bruce and his wife wanted to help, but feeling helpless during the pandemic. Then, they found a way to honor the Herbert family. 

They decided to start the Skylar Herbert Memorial Scholarship at the University of Michigan. The scholarship is dedicated to children of first responders. 
Although she was just 5, Skylar knew what she wanted to be, a pediatric dentist. 

Her mother said her little girl was always destined to do big things. Now, this scholarship will honor Skylar’s name and children of first responders will get an opportunity in her memory. 

“Going through an unimaginable tragedy, hopefully this will give them some hope for the future,” Bruce said. They have wonderful memories of Skylar. I hope we can get together in Ann Arbor someday and congratulate the first recipient of the scholarship and have proper hugs all around. 

“My baby would have connected with Mr. Hiler as well,” Lavondria said. “She had a big heart. She would be like thank you so much, whether it was for her not. 

If you would like to donate to the scholarship, click here.