The Miya Marcano Foundation, a nonprofit created in honor of the slain 19-year-old, made its first public appearance at her former high school. The foundation was created to ensure Marcano’s death “wasn’t in vain” by providing families of missing persons with the resources, education and support they need, according to the MMF website.
Dressed in blue, visitors and loved ones gathered Friday at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Florida, to honor the late Miya Marcano and launch a nonprofit organization in her name.
Marcano, a Valencia College student, went missing Sept. 24 from the Arden Villas apartments near UCF and was found dead Oct. 2 in a wooded area near the Tymber Skan apartment complex. The prime suspect in her disappearance, Armando Manuel Caballero, was found dead a few days earlier.
Valencia College awarded Marcano a posthumous honorary degree at the foundation launch, according to NBC 6 South Florida. A scholarship created by MMF and Charles W. Flanagan High was also announced in Marcano’s honor. MMF hopes to prevent others from enduring what Marcano’s family went through when she went missing, the foundation’s website states.
“I don’t even know if we’re turning the pain into purpose,” family spokesperson Jodi Lewis told NBC 6 South Florida at the launch. “We’re doing what we think that every parent, every loved one (and) everyone should be doing.”
In 2020, there were 89,637 active missing persons records, of which 43% were under the age of 21, according to a 2020 National Crime Information Center report.
The MMF launch also featured the foundation’s inaugural fundraiser, titled “The Release – Fly High, Princess Miya,” from which all proceeds will go to the foundation, according to the MMF Instagram page. Donors purchased butterflies that were then released at 4:26 p.m., a reference to Marcano’s birthday on April 26, in the Memorial Garden of Charles W. Flanagan High. MMF aimed to release 1,900 butterflies as a tribute to Marcano’s age.
MMF announced in an Instagram post Saturday that the nonprofit sold 1,159 butterflies and will continue selling until it reaches its goal of 1,900. Those who attended also learned about the Miya Marcano Law, a new proposed law promoted by the UCF Caribbean Students’ Association. The law proposes improved security measures in residential properties in Florida, including extensive background checks and limited master key access for residential employees, according to the MMF website.
Currently, Florida law states landlords have no legal obligation to conduct background checks on employees with access to apartments, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Marlon Hill, a friend and legal consultant of Marcano’s family, is spearheading a movement to change this with the establishment of the Miya’s Law Community Coalition, “a statewide network of of Caribbean Student Associations” that will assist in the data collection of tenant experiences across Florida, according to the MMF Instagram page.
“We intend to use our last breath of resources to gather testimony and ideas from the public to fully evaluate and advocate for changes in our laws,” Hill said in a statement.