Kevin Rafael Preciado, a 2012 NSU graduate, died at age 22 on March 24 of congestive heart failure, a complication associated with spinal muscular atrophy.
Preciado was a business administration major and the sports editor for The Current for a year and a half, up until his graduation.
The Preciado family held his “Celebration of Life” on March 29 in the Don Taft University Center Club Room. Per the family’s request, almost everyone wore sports jerseys or NSU gear, not black, since they wanted the memorial to be a celebration of his life.
When Preciado caught a cold on March 23, he experienced difficulty breathing and was taken to the hospital to clear the congestion. Preciado’s breathing problems continued and his heart was not strong enough to handle it. He died at 2:20 a.m.
Preciado was born to Robin and Rafael Preciado in Miami on April 10, 1990. He was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy, which causes problems with all the muscles in the body, including the heart. His doctors estimated that he wouldn’t live past age 10, and, according to his mother, the disease was progressive and made him weaker every year.
“He was our life and we are so proud of everything he accomplished,” Robin said.
Peter Finley, associate professor of sport and recreation management, said, “Whenever I spent time with him, I was struck by the feeling that we all can and should achieve more. He was a shining example that life is full of possibilities if we think positively, dare to take chances and refuse to limit ourselves.”
Though he had no siblings, Preciado was close to his cousins.
“Kevin was spontaneous and was always there for me, his family and friends,” said his younger cousin, Ricardo Preciado.
Gary Tuell, NSU’s men’s basketball head coach knew Preciado as an avid Sharks fan, and said, “Kevin was a talented young man who did wonderful work and was an inspiration to our coaches and student-athletes who had the good fortune to know him.“
Preciado’s mother described her household as a sports center where Kevin and his father, who were the best of friends, would talk about sports all the time.
Nancy Olson, adjunct professor of sports and recreation management, said, “I was very fortunate to have known Kevin and his family for several years, dating back to when I ran the Marlins Community Foundation. [They] would help us sell raffle tickets to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. At NSU, I supervised his practicum experience with Special Olympics. Kevin was passionate about helping others and was a great example for all of us.”
Linda Mills, director of Special Olympics Florida Broward County, met Preciado through Olsen and hired him to intern with Special Olympics as the social media manager, posting updates on Facebook and Twitter and updating the website.
“Kevin brought us into the social media age and he taught us how so we could continue the practices when his internship was over. Kevin had a great sense of humor and brought smiles to our faces. He was an inspiration to all,” Mills said.
Finley described Preciado as a passionate sports fan and will remember him as a highly motivated young man who brought out the best in others.
He said, “As I heard from his classmates today, the words ‘inspirational’ and ‘brave’ come up over and over. Kevin had an impact on everyone who was blessed to meet him. Our conversations would always turn to our shared passion for soccer and his love for Real Madrid. He was also a serious Shark [and] supported all of NSU’s teams.”
Robin Preciado said that she was proud of her son when he started working for The Current, because it brought him joy, satisfaction and a sense of meaning.
In one of his sports commentaries, printed in February 2011 and headlined “No need to hide your NSU pride”, Preciado said, “Instead of looking at the glass half empty, let’s take a look at it half full. It’s time for us to appreciate what’s right in front of our eyes. When it comes to NSU athletics, let’s display the same effort our athletes give on a daily basis by attending their games and giving them the support they deserve.”
Keith Smith, assistant athletic director, first met Preciado in February 2011 while hosting the National Girls and Women’s in Sport Day luncheon event at NSU, to honor Dana Jacobson, an ESPN commentator, for the Pioneer Award.
He said, “After the event, Kevin waited patiently in the back of the room until it was his turn to meet and interview Dana for The Current. After I introduced the two, Kevin immediately went to work and I was instantly struck by his professionalism and poise during his interview. His passion for NSU athletics was unprecedented and I am truly thankful to have had the opportunity to know and work with him.”
With over 100 comments of endearment on his Facebook profile, Preciado’s friends and family were at a loss for words but described him as a courageous, humble, strong, wise, strong-willed and beautiful soul.
Robin Preciado said, “The messages his friends left on Facebook were what kept us strong.”
Dean Don Rosenblum of the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences, said, “He was quite an influential and inspirational presence on campus.”
Stephanie Esperanza and Mike Francis attended McArthur High School in Hollywood, Fla. with Preciado. Esperanza will never forget how Preciado used to save her from being late to her criminal justice class by offering her a ride on the back of his wheelchair to zoom her to class.
Francis, who is currently serving in the Air Force stationed in New Mexico, wishes he was in Florida to pay his respects. Francis will remember him as a bright, positive and hilarious person and recalled Preciado first introducing himself as “Cadillac.”
Finley believes in the quote “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and said, “Kevin’s academic success and work with The Current are proof. He had limitless willpower and quietly put it on display every day. For that, I thank him, love him and will never forget him.”
Robin Preciado said, “I think he knew and recognized that his time was short. In a sense, I felt he was prepared, but he never wanted to be treated differently.”
In February, NSU alumna Alexis Irias, co-founder of Epocca, offered Preciado a six-month internship as the company’s social media content manager.
Irias said, “It was the perfect job for him since it gave him the ability to do it from anywhere. Besides the fact that he loved writing, he was very proactive and creative.”
She intended to permanently hire Preciado in August.
Irias said, “I admired his sense of humor and positive outlook on life. About a month ago I asked him, ‘What would you do if you had a million dollars?’ He said, ‘I don’t really care about money, I would probably donate most of it and give the rest to my family.’”
In a poem Preciado wrote in 2010, called “Trying to Find Myself”, he said, “Everyone is here for a reason. I’ll achieve my goals as long as I stay humble and true.”
Finley said, “He was very interested in social issues and felt that we all have a responsibility to care for our fellow man, to reach out to people in need and to elevate them. He believed that the measure of a man is in how much he gives, not how much he take.”
Preciado’s uncle, Fernando Preciado, said, “It’s sad when someone so young departs but, under the circumstances, Kevin had a long life, thanks to his inner strength and the strength and love of his parents, who stood by his side. His parents should be proud of the job they did raising Kevin.”
Preciado’s family requests that donations in his memory be made to either the Muscular Dystrophy Association, The Special Olympics of Broward County Florida, Pekeapzu Rescue — where Preciado adopted his dog from in 2007, or the Humane Society.