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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Around the country, hundreds volunteer through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization mentor young people in hopes of making a lasting change in their lives and every year there is one big brother and big sister honored for doing amazing work.
This year’s big sister is from Broward County. This past June, the big news was celebrated on Facebook Live.
“I’m overjoyed! I’m still getting over the high of being onstage and being able to tell our story,” said Myra Camino.
Camino, who works for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Broward County, was recently awarded as the 2018 National Big Sister of the Year and her little sister Saleen was right by her side to celebrate.
“This is my little sister Saleen we have been matched for the last five years,” said Camino.
CBS4 recently connected with Myra and Saleen at the Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southern University in Davie after the two spent a whirlwind summer visiting different places and sharing their story. On this day they shared it with us.
“It was a huge honor when they told me I had won for the state of Florida, I was like wow this is great, then when we found out that I had won for national, I was like wait, what, (laughs) I am like this is kind of cool. So the last two months have been crazy because we have been nonstop. We have been traveling to different conferences,” said Camino.
The special bond between the two started when Saleen was just six years old, the same year Saleen lost her father. With Myra’s help, Saleen was able to work through that trauma.
“We made like a packet of the things that I would do with my dad. We had like pictures and we talked about all the positive things we used to do together with my dad,” said Saleen.
Myra remembers that first year as well.
“So, we did a lot of crying that first year we were matched. I think the scrapbook really helped because it gave her an opportunity to just express how she really felt and to remember the good things that she remembered about her dad, that was great,” said Camino.
It was a time that helped them build a strong foundation for their friendship and to enjoy their favorite pastimes like reading books, spending time with animals, and making arts and crafts.
“It’s great because I always have somebody to talk to, like she is always there for me. If I ever need something, like school supplies or something, she is always there to help me with it,” said Saleen.
And the support goes both ways.
When Myra was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, her little sister helped keep their connection alive.
“It was sad and it was hard because like she was sick and I didn’t want her to feel bad or anything. I used to text her and write her letters and tell her how she was feeling. We would call her and visit her,” said Saleen.
Myra who is a wife and mom of two boys says even when she faced an uncertain future, she used it as a teaching moment for Saleen.
“One of my biggest things is bad things happen, but you have the choice in the way that you react to it. So I tell her cancer is something that happened to me but it doesn’t define me. So she can choose what defines her and I always want her to stay positive. I also want her to feel good about herself and I tell her, you are beautiful and you are perfect just the way you are and I always want her to have that self-confidence. I want her to know she can do anything she wants to, you know? And that she is resilient and that you know if she sets goals for herself, she can make them happen,” said Camino.
Camino who works in the Big Brother Big Sister office works to match young people to their Big Brothers or Big Sisters based on their interests and personalities.
If you would like to volunteer to work with Big Brothers Big Sisters head over to their website for more information http://www.bbbs.org.
If you want to read more about Camino’s battle with cancer you can find more on her website Green Chemo Ninjas where she shares the ups and downs of her inspirational journey.
By Caridad Hernandez Wood