Meet Manny

December 2, 1993 – August 7, 2016

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”I come from a loving and supportive family, in which I am the youngest of three kids. Along with my parents, my two sisters have always spoiled me and cared for me unconditionally.

Growing up, I enjoyed spending time with my friends, basically just doing all the things that kids do. I guess you can say I was “happy-go-lucky”. I started playing sports at a young age, but my favorite two were definitely tennis and baseball. I competed in tennis all throughout the state, playing in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) until the age of 12, when I was part of the team that represented Florida in the Regional Tournament held in Nashville, Tennessee.

Eventually, baseball became the sport that I dedicated all my time and effort to. I played at Christopher Columbus High School, where I attended all four years of high school, and was part of the 2009 Varsity team that won State Runner-Up. During my junior year, I received a scholarship to play at Campbell University in North Carolina. I made lifelong friends while playing baseball – friends that are still a big part of my life today.

Throughout my life, I have always had a love for the ocean, and all the activities related to it. This is something I think I inherited from my grandfather who used to always tell me stories about his fishing trips in Cuba and about his own love for the sea. Once I stopped playing baseball and had more free time, I started going out on the water with friends more and more. I fell in love with fishing – especially spearfishing. I became so interested in it, and loved learning about it from my friends. It is now, by far, what I most look forward to doing. I really can’t explain how incredibly beautiful life is underwater, and all the mysterious things the ocean has to offer. I find peace in the ocean that I can’t find anywhere else. To me, it’s perfection.

Then in July 2014, my life changed abruptly. I discovered two masses that were growing in my left bicep and my right calf. I went to see my pediatrician about it, and things escalated after that. The news wasn’t good. After seemingly endless MRIs, other scans, and visits to specialists, I was told I have a very rare cancer called Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma (ASPS). It’s a pediatric cancer that affects children and young adults, and the treatment options are limited. I can honestly say this was the most difficult moment of my life to date.

Through the efforts of my oncologist, the support of my family, girlfriend, and friends, and all the people that reach out to me offering comfort and support, I have embarked on a journey to beat ASPS. There are days of hope, days of pain, days of tears and disappointment, and days of hope once again. I know that God is always by my side, and pray that He will see me through this journey.” Rest in Peace, our hero.