Family members of late Belle Isle mother fundraising to help with suicide awareness

Stephanie Hollingsworth went missing, found dead in September 2020

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – With tears in his eyes, Chad Chitwood remembers the type of person his sister used to be.

“She was involved in a lot of activities and would definitely stay busy and she was a beautiful person and a beautiful soul,” Chitwood said.

[TRENDING: Orlando leaders approve new plan for Fashion Square mall | Here’s how to keep your Christmas tree living longer | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

It was last year in September that Stephanie Hollingsworth went missing from Belle Isle.

Her disappearance sparked a community outreach, with friends and family spending weeks searching for her.

Hollingsworth’s body was found nearly a month later in a pond in Orange County.

Investigators ruled her death as a suicide.

“All the people that came out and came together is what led to her discovery,” Chitwood explained.

Chitwood said it hasn’t been an easy year but his family is working to get results.

They are now raising money by auctioning a Louis Vuitton purse online. The funds would go to local police departments and other professionals to help with suicide awareness.

“We wanted to figure out how to raise money to help support local police departments, specifically Belle Isle Department, who were instrumental in helping us find her,” he explained.

Belle Isle Police Chief Laura Houston released a statement to News 6 on Tuesday that reads:

“The Belle Isle Police Department and the Belle Isle community continue to grieve the loss of Stephanie Hollingsworth. We are committed to helping those struggling with mental illnesses through outreach efforts and advanced crisis intervention training for all of our officers. The Hollingsworth family has a special place in all of our hearts,”

So far, family members have raised $1,800. The drawing date for the raffle is set for Dec. 16.

To donate or participate in the auction click here.

If you or a loved one are struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!