GET TO KNOW MELI: 2015 MIAMI GIRL OF THE YEAR
Melanie Mederos, age 13, has been selected as the 2015 Miami Girl of the Year. Melanie was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on July 18, 2014. A student at M.A. Milam K-8 Center, Meli immediately began treatment at Miami Children’s Hospital, which continues today. She is receiving blood and platelets on an ongoing basis. Melanie’s father is a Miami-Dade Police Department Domestic Violence Detective/Special Victims Bureau Officer. Her mother, Mayte, is an ESOL second grade teacher with Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Melanie has two siblings—Meagan, age 14, and Eran, age 7. Melanie is also a huge fan of the band One Direction.
GET TO KNOW FRANCISCO: 2015 MIAMI BOY OF THE YEAR
Francisco Diaz Jr., age 14, returned to school at the beginning of the year after fighting AML Leukemia. He was diagnosed with the blood cancer on March 27, 2013. “I have been in and out of Holtz Children Hospital,” he says. “I went through chemo and a bone marrow transplant. The recovery was painful.” He was confined to a hospital room and, later, his house from late September 2013 until October 2014. “I went through a very strict diet, and everyone around me had to wear masks and disinfect their hands,” Francisco adds. “I was completely isolated and very bored at home.” While homebound, Francisco discovered that he enjoys cooking and baking — a hobby to take his mind off of the 35 pills per day he ingested. Today, he makes a great companion at a fine steakhouse or California-style Mexican restaurant. “I can never say no to a good-looking burrito,” he admits. Raised in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, Francisco is still a fan of the Lakers and Dodgers. He is proud to call Miami home and loves the warm, aqua-colored waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay.
Francisco Diaz Jr.