The Nazario family smiling for the camera.

Samantha and Tyler Nazario
Resides: Melbourne
Hometown: Bronx, New York
Involvement with BDFF: 11 years

Everyone yearns for a little validation once in a while, signaling a job well done.  Such is the case of Samantha Nazario, her son, Tyler, and the Foundation.

Tyler was born in New York City, as was his mom Samantha, who says bleeding disorders were regularly undiagnosed in the borough’s Hispanic communities. She recalls bringing Tyler to the hospital because of bruising on his spinal cord, knowing something was amiss.

“They never did a gene panel,” she says. “I never thought in a million years he had a bleeding disorder. It was a lack of education.”
When Tyler was 4, the pair relocated from the Bronx to Melbourne, Florida, and soon found themselves in Orlando at Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital. That’s when Tyler was finally diagnosed with Von Willebrand disease. That was also the day Samantha was introduced to the BDFF.

“I am thankful for all the education from Fran and all the ladies at the Foundation,” she says. “We have been a part of the Foundation family for 11 years now attending walks, events, and Camp Spirit. These families understand what you are going through.  Most people don’t know what a blood disease is.”

Camp Spirit, in particular, was a life changer for Tyler.

“Before Camp Spirit, we were dealing with a bit of depression,” she says. “But they taught him that he can anything and that there were other kids just like him.”

Eleven years after being diagnosed, during a routine check of Tyler’s blood levels, the doctor announced that his results were normal.

“He has totally leveled out with proper care,” beams Samantha. “There have been no severe bleeding issues for five years.”

By properly taking care of himself, Tyler, now 18, is living a normal life. That’s a job-well-done-validation in any book. That care, Samantha says, was brought on by following the education and support offered through the Foundation.

A talented artist, Tyler loves to perform and draw. He uses that artistic talent to give back to the Foundation by designing his own “vampire pony” t-shirts for the annual Orlando Creepy Crawl 5K. He raised $7,000 in the past four years so other kids can go to Camp Spirit.

“The friends he met at Camp Spirit are like family now,” adds Samantha. “We make sure to see them three-to-four times a year.”

Tyler’s artistic abilities are not going unnoticed. A senior at Melbourne High School and headed to Eastern Florida University in the fall to study video game design and animation, he placed second in the Space Coast Art Festival in 2015. Last year, he was named best upcoming new artist in Brevard County by United Third Bridge. On stage, Tyler recently sang and danced in the school production of Newsies and is a regular choir member for Epcot Center’s venerable Candlelight Processional.  And Tyler’s photography from past Processionals are being used in the event’s promotional efforts.

A job well done indeed.

“He is amazing,” Samantha says. “He keeps me quite busy.”