On Saturday, August 3, family, friends, teachers and nurses of Tatyana May gathered at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School to celebrate Tatyana’s life and the impression she left on the Milford community. During the ceremony, individuals shared their memories and stories of their experiences with the 7-year-old while she attended Morris Early Childhood Center and Benjamin Banneker Elementary.
Born in 2005, Tatyana was born with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), a rare congenital heart defect in which the left ventricle of the heart is severely underdeveloped. She was also diagnosed with Protein-losing enteropathy, which led to the decrease in the amount of protein her body produced, leading to the deterioration of vital organs.
Tatyana’s family, her father JT and mother Chantelle, were restationed from Washington state to Dover Air Force Base with the United States Air Force in the fall of 2011. As they began to look for housing, they fell in love with the Milford area and would be thankful for that decision as the family was embraced by the Milford School District and the Milford community through very difficult times.
“Being a military family we had the unique ability to see a lot of different places,” commented Chantelle. “I believe that we found Milford for a reason We have surrounded by great people.”
Attending Morris Early Childhood Center for Kindergarten and Benjamin Banneker Elementary for first grade, Tatyana was well known throughout the Milford School District. She touched the lives of fellow students, teacher, administrators and the nurses that she interacted with daily. School Nurse Lisa Fitler administered medicine to Tatyana during her first year in school as she had the opportunity to share time with her each day.
“Tatyana had an infectious smile,” commented Ms. Fitler. “She was a happy little girl that never complained and always wanted to help. This family has touched my heart and Tatyana has a special place in my heart.”
During Tatyana’s first grade year at Benjamin Banneker Elementary, she was taught by Ms. Johnson and Ms. Moorman, who both spent time with Tatyana learning as much from her as Tatyana did from them.
“Tatyana was the most positive student I have ever worked with,” stated Moorman. “She always had a smile on her face and always persevered through anything. Tatyana taught you to enjoy and embrace life. She had so much to deal with and reminded you that life is precious.”
In February of 2013, Tatyana was placed on Home Bound Care as her medical condition made it necessary for her to be connected to a pump that continuously fed her medicine. Technology allowed her to continue her school studies through Skype, software that allows an individual to video conference with other individuals from anywhere in the world. Through Tatyana’s monitor she could join the class during reading time and even took spelling tests with her classmates from her bed at home.
“She felt like she was still part of the class,” commented Tatyana’s mother Chantelle. “Tatyana always enjoyed school, even when she was not feeling well. They would always ask her when she was getting her new heart.”
Tatyana was listed on the heart transplant list and received a new heart on Tuesday, June 18. On the way back to her hospital bed from the operating room, Tatyana went into cardiac arrest and was without oxygen to her brain for fifteen minutes. Tatyana May was pronounced dead on June 20,2013. Affecting many lives in the Milford community, the ceremony on August 3 celebrated Tatyana’s impact on her fellow students, teachers and community members.
“Many times you hear about great communities but you never get to see them,” commented Tatyana’s father TJ. We are truly blessed to have found a community that has loved our daughter as much as we have.”
A scholarship has been set up by teachers at Milford School District as a way to continue Tatyana’s legacy in Milford. Although the final details have not been formalized, the scholarship will either provide an annual scholarship to a youth that would like to pursue ballet or dance or be used as a scholarship when the class of 2024 graduates.
“Since the May’s are a Military family we anticipate that they will be moving away from Milford at some point and this would be a way for them to stay connected with our community,” commented organizer of the scholarship, Ed Evans. Evans intends to form a board to guide the way this scholarship can be used to encapsulate the spirit of Tatyana.