10-year-old cancer survivor inspires thousands through his violin

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RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Tyler Butler-Figueroa has a lot to be thankful for this summer.

He is a rising fifth grader at Walnut Creek Elementary, and while he's loving the summer break from the classroom, Tyler is using the time off to help spread his inspiring story through his music.

"My message is, if you have the same story as me, you can start something you really love and follow your dreams and if your heart tells you that it's right, then stick with it,'" Tyler explained.

Tyler is spending his summer launching a YouTube channel and booking gigs. He also did his first street performance outside the ABC11 studio on Fayetteville Street. That performance racked up more than 30 thousand views from a Facebook live post in just a few days.

"I like it because I get to earn money or tips to help my family," Tyler said. "It's cool playing for other people."

Tyler picked up the violin while going through chemotherapy for leukemia. He was diagnosed at age four and a half and fought for years before going into remission. His chemo port put an end to sports or any physical activity for a few years.

Tyler also endured bullying and decided to change schools. During that time he saw a flyer at school for Kidznotes, a Triangle non-profit that teaches music to hundreds of kids who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to learn it.

"I told my mom and she signed me up and once I got there I was learning quickly," Tyler said.

Today, at 10 years old, Tyler has been playing the violin for three years.

When asked about his musical ability, Tyler thought for a moment and said, "I think it's a gift."

He credits Kidznotes for changing his life by leading him to music during a very difficult time of his life. He's now hoping his music will be a gift to inspire others.

"I want to be a musician or a doctor when I grow up," he said.

Tyler will perform on Friday, July 27 at the United States of America Gospel Skate Night Youth Talent Show.
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