MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Some survivors start out that way since the day they were born and for more than 200 babies, a man nicknamed “Uncle Nick” played a huge role in their survival.

“Little survivors, every single one of them,” Nick Silverio says of the children he’s helped save. “Many of them, most of them, would not be here if it wasn’t for the program.”

Silverio considers the children part of his family. Gloria Hope Lewis is one of his many “nieces and nephews.”

“It’s basically the only reason I’m with her, with mom. If it didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be here,” Gloria Hope told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana.

Gloria owes the life she has today to “A Safe Haven for Newborns: The Gloria M. Silverio Foundation”, a South Florida based organization created by Nick Silverio in his late wife’s honor dedicated to helping end infant abandonment.

When Gloria Hope was a newborn, her birth mother dropped her off at a fire station in Deerfield Beach, a so-called “safe haven” for parents to leave babies they can’t care for within their first week of life.

“The firefighter said, ‘Are you sure?’ She said, ‘Yes. It’s the only way’,” Silverio recalls.

Gloria Hope was just two days old.

“When they called us, they said, ‘Lori this one is different. She’s a safe haven baby’ and I said ‘what’s that mean?’ ‘She’s not foster. She’s yours to keep.’ I fell to my knees. I was in awe,” said Lori Lewis, Gloria’s adoptive mother.

Gloria has been with Lori ever since.

They call Gloria’s birth mother “Tummy Mommy” and say the decision she made 12 and a half years ago was a brave one.

It’s a choice that gave Gloria a chance at survival.

“I honestly think of a survivor as anybody who has to overcome a major obstacle in their life. I mean, everybody has to do that. They have to have the courage to do that,” Gloria said.

Gloria uses her courage to share her story.

Last month, she spoke in front of more than 300 people at the annual Safe Haven for Newborns gala in Doral.

“She’s not afraid to step out and speak and be in front of people. She sees the end goal. She just steps up and does that. She just amazes me every day,” Lori said of her daughter.

Perhaps what’s most amazing of all, is that even at just 12-years old, Gloria realizes that just about anyone could be living an untold story of survival.

“A survivor isn’t like a hero, basically a secret hero. They can comb over obstacles, keep the secret. They don’t brag. They don’t do anything like that,” Gloria said. “They just try to help. If they see someone struggling. They can use their experience to help that person.”

At last count, the Safe Haven for Newborns organization has helped save 239 babies.

Lauren Pastrana

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