As part of The Children’s Trust’s 20th Anniversary celebration, children and youth whose lives have been impacted by The Trust are being highlighted for their achievements attained with the help of Trust-funded programs or initiatives. www.TheChildrensTrust.org/20thAnniversary.
Silvio Plata moved to the United States with his family soon after he was born in Nicaragua in the early 2000s. Before he turned 2, he was diagnosed with cancer and lost his sight in both eyes, casting his future and that of his parents into considerable doubt. “My parents were very lost, very confused as to how I was going to get an education, how I was going to grow up and just do simple daily tasks like mobility, walking, getting from one place to another,” said Silvio.
In the midst of all the insecurity appeared The Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Funded by The Children’s Trust since 2004, Miami Lighthouse provided the support and guidance that Silvio and his family would need when the journey ahead seemed most challenging.
“They were the first ones who got me started in the Blind Babies program, giving me therapy, getting my fingers sensitive,” he said. The Miami Lighthouse became like a second home to Silvio and he was surrounded by individuals who became fixtures of support and guidance in his life to this day.
Not only did Silvio learn to use his other senses to help him develop, but he began to excel in numerous facets of his life. This included what would go on to become his foremost passion – music. He played the drums and guitar, became a virtuoso on the piano, and his favorite instrument was undeniably, his voice. “In my opinion, music is another sense, another way of feeling things, another way of conveying emotions.”
Soon enough, Silvio was performing in front of audiences and his enrollment in other Trust-funded programs, including Arc of South Florida and The Doral Conservatory and School of the Arts, fine-tuned his musical talents bringing him to an even higher level of accomplishment.
Over the years, his talent and performances have seen him reach once unimaginable heights including singing alongside one of his idols, world-renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, when the latter visited the Miami Lighthouse for assistance learning to use a new Braille reading device. Silvio helped show his idol how to use the device and the two put on an impromptu performance with Bocelli on the piano and Silvio singing alongside him.
That was only one of numerous performing highlights that would make any musician proud. In recent years, Silvio has performed on bigger and bigger stages, including singing the national anthem at Miami Marlins and Miami Heat games. In October 2022, Silvio performed the National Anthem in front of more than 66,000 thousand fans at the Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Despite his numerous accomplishments and performances, Silvio continues to push forward, looking for new challenges to overcome. He learned to read Braille so well that he started competing and eventually made it to the National Braille Challenge Finals in California in 2022.
Silvio's parents, his faith and various programs for children with disabilities have all helped him develop from a baby to a young adult. He was awarded a full scholarship to his dream school, the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music and is currently in his first year of college. He plans to continue developing his operatic voice and other musical talents and eventually pursue a law degree.
“I strongly believe that the person I am today and how far I’ve come, I greatly owe that to The Children's Trust. They’ve funded a lot if not all of the summer camps and programs that I was a part of when I was developing as a musician and academically as well,” Silvio said.
Silvio Plata is featured in The Children’s Trust 20 Years Nurturing Greatness campaign. Learn more about his journey at www.TheChildrensTrust.org/20thAnniversary.