Cynthia Portaro works to help youth after losing two children
It's something most parents can't fathom - losing two children unexpectedly within six months of each other. It's a heartbreaking reality for one Valley mom. Now, she's trying to turn her pain into something positive. Video by ktnv.comvideo
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- It's something most parents can't fathom -- losing two children unexpectedly within six months of each other. It's a heartbreaking reality for one Valley mom. Now, she's trying to turn her pain into something positive.
Last year, Cynthia Portaro was forced to bury her 22-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. As a way to honor them, she's in the beginning stages of creating a non-profit organization that she hopes will save other young people.
"It's not easy for me to forgive Brandon Hill," Cynthia says in her presentation to a group of teenagers at Faith Lutheran High School. "But without forgiveness, our hearts will never heal."
Brandon Hill, 23, is behind bars for the murder of her son. Michael Portaro was shot and killed in a robbery outside Tenaya Creek Brewery in March of 2011.
"A week after the murder was committed, I wrote a letter to Brandon Hill," Cynthia says. "I asked him how he could have such little regard for human life. I told him, that If he knew the kind of person Mike was, he would have never killed him."
Hill never responded. Cynthia's grief and frustration led to the creation of "No Buddy." It's an outreach program she developed to help young people make better decisions.
"They grow up so fast these days," she says. "The goal is to change the way they think and act, and the choices they make."
The importance of the choices we make is another subject that hits close to home for Cynthia. Just six months after Michael died, her daughter Chrissy was killed in an ATV crash. Investigators say the 16-year-old wasn't being as careful as she should have been when the accident happened.
"In a split second, she made the wrong choice, and it changed all of our lives," Cynthia says. "I would do anything to go back in time, and make sure she had both hands on the wheel, and her helmet buckled."
But instead of letting anger or sadness take over, Cynthia is taking action, with the memory of her children at heart.
"I tell people that you can never get over it," she says. "But you can learn to get through it."
For more information on Cynthia's outreach program, just type "No Buddy" into the search bar on Facebook. The Facebook page already has followers from all over the country.
Although Cynthia has spoke at a few high schools already, her goal is to partner with the entire school district to spread her message. She also plans to contact city leaders, and local youth groups to help expand her program.
Cynthia, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, also plans to write a book on overcoming tragedy.