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Grant and Vindy. Chances are, if you live in Johnstown, you know their names. When Tyler and Katey Skovensky’s Westmont home caught fire on July 26, 2023, they suffered a devastating loss — two of their four children died, 22-year-old Grant and 14-year-old Vindy.

When the community started learning about what happened, people were moved to help the grieving family, who also lost their home and all of their possessions. A GoFundMe was set up and quickly grew. Donation cans started appearing next to cash registers, and several business owners held events to raise money. A local bank collected clothing and toys. Facebook feeds were full of posts sharing opportunities to give and offering prayers.

“It was kind of mind-blowing at first,” said Tyler. “One person made a comment to me. He was an older gentleman, and he said, ‘I haven’t seen a community coming together like this since the 1977 flood.’ It was just absolutely amazing.”

Katey shared that when her family came from out-of-town to visit, they were surprised by the response. “You don’t even know these people, you’re walking in Walmart, and all of a sudden, they are hugging you, they cry with you, they make you feel like you’re going to be okay,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “This community, it’s family here. We were surrounded with good people. Very good people.”

Now, inspired by the kindness and support of a community that rallied around them in their darkest time and a wish to keep their children’s memories alive, Tyler and Katey are giving back. The Grant and Vindy Scholarship Fund will support three annual scholarships for local graduating senior students. The Hugh Grant Jeanjaquet Medical Scholarship will be awarded to a Bishop McCort student pursuing post-secondary education in a healthcare field. The Vindemiatrix A. Kohan Sports Leadership Scholarship will be awarded to a Bishop McCort student participating in at least one varsity sport (including cheerleading) who demonstrates a history of leadership and good sportsmanship. The Grant and Vindy Academic Award will be awarded to a senior attending a school in Cambria County who has a history of academic excellence and community service.

“I want people to remember my kids,” said Katey. They made an impact on lives and I want their memory to stay forever so nobody will forget them. One thing that my son always told me is to pay it forward. He was planning to help another kid at McCort after he graduated from college. He’s the one that put it in my head.”

If you only know Grant and Vindy’s names, it’s time for you to learn more about who they were.

Grant studied nursing at Saint Vincent College and was on the dean’s list with a 4.0 average. He was planning to join the Navy and become a flight nurse. He wanted a career that would help people. He was known for his big heart and old soul. He loved classic movies – “Gone with the Wind” was his favorite – and listening to records from artists as varied as Frank Sinatra, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Nirvana. He played guitar, loved to be outdoors, and wanted to travel the world. He loved being around kids, especially his little brother. He was health conscious, always exercising and taking great care to maintain his physical health. “His motto for life was “Don’t judge. You never know what a person is going through,” said Katey. “Be kind and be nice, mom.’ That’s what he always told me.”

Vindy was about to start her freshman year at Bishop McCort. She excelled at cheerleading (which she participated in since pre-K) and volleyball was planning to join the softball team. “She wanted to do everything,” said Tyler. “She told us last summer, ‘When I get back to school this year, I’m going to join the wrestling team!’ She wanted to do it all.” She was a talented artist and loved to paint and draw. She loved Disney movies, especially the princesses. She started playing piano at five-years-old and later learned guitar and ukulele, too. She wanted to become an engineer and work for NASA. She loved animals, volunteering at the Humane Society and working as a dog sitter.

They both wanted to do good things in the world because it was the right thing to do, not because they wanted recognition. “I think another thing about Grant and Vindy that’s very different for kids their age is that they were both very humble,” said Tyler. “They weren’t the spotlight, attention-type people. They were so humble and quiet. They did great things, but they moved in silence.”

The Grant and Vindy Scholarship Fund is a permanent endowment, which means it will continue to help students and remember two wonderful lives cut too short, too soon, long into the future, and forever.

Tyler and Katey say it’s not the last project they’ll take on to remember their kids. “With the growing support of so many, we got way more than we needed,” said Tyler. “In our minds, [paying it forward] is our goal. We’re just going to continue to give as we grow. As life goes on, we’re just going to continue giving.”

To donate to the Grant and Vindy Scholarship Fund, click here.

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