- Silvio lost his sight at 18 months due to cancer affecting his retina. However, his condition has not prevented him from developing his talents and reaching for his dreams.
The way we look at life will always influence the way we act. We must positively look at life, thanking God for the things we have, not looking at what we lack but at our treasures.” These motivating words come from Silvio Plata, a young man from Miami with an exemplary vision of life, which paradoxically contrasts with his lack of physical vision since he lost his sight at 18 months old.
Born in Nicaragua, Silvio was diagnosed with retinal cancer known as bilateral retinoblastoma that affected both eyes when he was six months old. In Nicaragua, this cancer was not treatable, so the family moved to the United States to save his life.
The first treatment was performed at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, where specialists recommended removal of both eyes to prevent cancer from spreading to the entire face and brain, which would have been fatal. His eyes were replaced by prostheses that he must use for the rest of his life, but due to his physical growth, the prostheses need to be replaced every six months until Silvio reaches 18.
Diverse organizations have supported Silvio and his family in this arduous but important process. Miami Lighthouse for the Blind has been crucial to teach Silvio how to be independent, and since he was 18 months old, he has been participating in their programs which are focused on blind and visually impaired children.
Likewise, when Silvio was two years old, he started on the early intervention program at Arc Project Thrive School in Kendall, aimed at children under five years of age with disabilities. The program provided Silvio with the necessary tools for his training—occupational and fine motor skills therapy—allowing him to develop higher sensitivity in his fingers, which has been fundamental for his learning.
Most importantly, his family highlights the support they have received from the community and appreciates the assistance given to Silvio’s health and for saving his life. “In 2005, when we arrived from Nicaragua, we did not have money to pay for treatment. The community, with support of television channels such as
Local 10 and organizations such as Club de Leones de Venezuela, carried out campaigns to collect money and pay for Silvio’s treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital,” says his mother, Ileana Plata.
Despite these events, Silvio has never let his condition stand in his way and has dedicated himself to cultivating his treasures; that attitude at 15 years old make him stand out from other people. “In my life, I focus on the treasures I have which are music and the talent I have that allows me to learn many things,” says Silvio.
He has a unique talent for music that he has developed since he was two years old. He plays the piano, the ukulele, the drums, the xylophone, and sings. And he does all very well! He has been invited to sing the national anthem at the Miami Open Tennis Tournament and at the Miami Marlins games.
Thanks to a scholarship from Italo’s Way Foundation, Silvio has been able to develop his voice and piano technique at the Doral Conservatory School of the Arts. He has been getting lessons every week since he was five years old and puts his talent into practice every Sunday at the New Jerusalem Church, where he plays piano and percussion.
He never let his blindness hold him back. He is a straight- “A” sophomore at the G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School, and from seventh grade, he’s been part of the Cambridge Global Studies Academy classes alongside other students with no vision impairments. Being part of the Cambridge model allows him to take credits for college, where he plans to attend as a law student.
Due to the training provided by organizations such as Arc Project Thrive or Miami Lighthouse, Silvio developed an extraordinary ability to handle the Braille system, a tactile reading and writing methodology for blind people. In addition to using it daily at school, he has excelled in various regional competitions since he was seven years old and is one of the best in the state in his category.
This led him to compete for the first time at the 2019 Braille Challenge National Finals in Los Angeles on June 21, where he represented Florida. The best students with the highest results from all over the United States and Canada came to the finals. Silvio, although he had outstanding participation, did not manage to win, but he was delighted to have been invited and for giving his best effort.
Silvio has become a role model not only for his qualities and talents but also for his way of looking at life at such a young age. When asked what the key is to overcoming adversity, Silvio replied, “We should always be positive and grateful, but above all have faith in Jesus Christ, who will give us the strength to get ahead and overcome any obstacle that comes our way.”
Haz clic para leer en Español: Silvio Plata un ejemplo de vida para todos