When Zayra Deltoro and her family moved to San Antonio from Houston in 2003, she didn’t think they had a support system here. She found out differently when her husband, Devaran, had open heart surgery two years later. It was a discovery that kept being confirmed over the past 15 years after her family of four experienced one life-threatening medical condition after another.
Zayra started working at CPS Energy in Customer Service after arriving in the Alamo City and began giving to United Way during the company’s campaign. At the time, she didn’t know why she was giving. None of the companies she previously worked for in Houston held United Way campaigns.
“I thought we gave just to be giving back,” she said.
Then, her husband’s health crisis sent the family into a tailspin.
“One of my co-workers said ‘Call United Way. They can help. That’s what they’re there for.’ I didn’t know we could call United Way if we needed help.”
The American Heart Association (AHA), a United Way agency, became a lifeline. AHA’s mobile unit took in blood donations from Zayra and others for the many transfusions Devaran would need. The agency also provided bill assistance and food for the Deltoros.
Three short years later, the family endured another trial when their now 10-year-old son, Romeo, came into this world with a rare genetic disorder medically known as Noonan Syndrome. In a unique demonstration of genetics that led to the family being featured in a magazine, Romeo inherited Noonan Syndrome from Devaran whose condition had laid dormant and wasn’t diagnosed until Romeo was born.
The vulnerable infant needed blood. Again, AHA came to the rescue along with other United Way agencies such as Christian Assistance Ministries (CAM), the San Antonio Food Bank, and SAMMinistries, providing other assistance for Zayra’s family.
Those stressful years passed and the Deltoros held on – to each other and their faith. A third trial came, forcing the family to contend with yet another medical condition. Doctors diagnosed Zayra’s daughter, Devin-Ranae, with an autoimmune disorder called Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). For two years, Devin got to know hospitals really well as she went in and out of their doors.
Like a cozy old family friend, the AHA was there. Devin needed repeated blood transfusions and platelets as she went through her ordeal. Christus Santa Rosa also showed up assisting with cancer research while the doctors paid for her medicine.
Now 17 years old, Devin moved across the street to care for her grandmother who is battling cancer. She’ll graduate in 2020, earning both her high school diploma at Travis Early College High School and an associate’s degree in nursing from San Antonio College. Yes, Devin wants to be a nurse despite, and perhaps because of, all of the health trials her family has endured. She wants to give back.
It’s a lesson she’s learning from her mom, who has given faithfully to United Way designating giving to the American Heart Association. But Zayra’s pledge almost didn’t happen this year until she attended a United Way rally at the Westside Customer Service Center where she serves as an Energy Advisor.
“Before I went in there, I had decided that I couldn’t give. We have too many financial needs as a family right now. But I cannot not give. If other people who are struggling are giving, then I can, too. And, I want to help those with cancer.”
At the rally, Zayra heard from a representative with Any Baby Can and learned about the agency’s prescription brokerage program. It works to cut the cost of life-saving medicines, saving local residents $23 million last year. Zayra plans to look into the program for her family’s medical needs as she continues to give to United Way. She wants others to know supporting United Way helps even when they feel it doesn’t.
“It makes a difference. Our giving goes a long way.”