TBy Nicholas Plante ’18 and Aidan Fitzgerald ’18
Through the grace of God, our deepest pains prepare us for everlasting joy. In order to fulfill the Lord’s plan for us, we must all suffer sometimes. Although we may be inclined to withdraw from hardships, they are what best prepare us for eternal glory. By humbly embracing our cross, we bring to life the spirit of Jesus Christ Himself.
One year ago, Thomas Matthew Miloscia, a member of the class of 2015, entered into eternal life after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer. Even when met with one of the rarest and most aggressive forms of the disease, this brave, young man maintained a remarkably positive outlook. Just like Christ, he never let any adversity demoralize him. Instead, Tom exhibited a steadfast vitality that enabled him to put others before himself regardless of the circumstances. Undoubtedly, he accomplished his goal of becoming a “bright spot” in the lives of those he touched. The countless acts of kindness performed by Tom throughout his life paved the way for a foundation named after him, one which will ensure that his legacy is carried on for years to come.
Tom was born to his loving parents Christine and Joe Miloscia on October 21, 1996. The second of six children, he grew up with his family in Setauket. Even as a child, Tom proved to be extraordinarily charitable. In just second grade, he asked if the birthday gifts he had received could instead be given to Little Flower Children’s Services. He attended Sts. Philip and James School in St. James, where he met Tobias Hoonhout ’15. The two became fast friends. “He was the first friend I made there, and we had a special bond from then on,” recalled Toby.
While at Chaminade, Tom’s amiable personality and hearty sense of humor endeared him to many. He loved to play football and participated in track and field. He was also a member of the National Honor Society, Sacristans, Chess Club, Science Club, Social Studies Club, Economics Club, and the Intramurals Officials Club. Tom grew close to many teachers, especially Mr. Peter Dubon ’99, who was his junior year homeroom moderator and guidance counselor from that point on.
After Tom was diagnosed with sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in early 2014, he spent his remaining year and a half in high school receiving treatment and coping with his illness. He experienced a series of ups and downs as the severity of his symptoms fluctuated. Although the disease had metastasized to several areas of his body, he graduated in health from Chaminade in June of 2015. Tom began to study at Stony Brook University later that fall with the intention of being able to relieve the pain of others who were in the same position as he, planning on becoming a medical doctor specializing in alternative methods of treating cancer.
Despite the struggles he encountered, Tom always kept an upbeat attitude that inspired his friends and family. He did not fret over his own troubles, but always tried to be there for those around him. As a witness to Tom’s positivity during his times of hardship, Mr. Dubon said, “I want people to remember how much Tom genuinely cared about everyone he met, how much he enjoyed every interaction with everyone he met, and how much fun he was.”
Nicolas Aubry ’18, a close friend of Tom and his family, was able to gain inspiration from Tom even as he lay in his hospital bed. “When I told Tom how much it hurt me to see him suffer, he said he was glad God chose him and not any of his siblings,” Nic shared. “Tom always tended to the needs of others before his own. Without a doubt, he is the biggest influence in my life.”
Beyond his own personal optimism, Tom had a community of people trying to help him in his time of need. Pilot Airlift Services (PALS), a charity designed to fly cancer patients out of state to get them the therapy they need, flew Tom to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore twice a week. In addition, the Team Miloscia Cancer Recovery Fund on gofundme.com generated over $66,000.
More than anything else, an unfailing faith in God guided Tom in through his final months. Instead of bemoaning his situation, he embraced it through his faith in God’s plan. Tobias explained, “[Tom] truly believed that God was calling him to go down this path, both as a sacrifice and as a blessing, and he embraced it.”
Tom’s incredible trust in God’s will is truly a model for us all and has touched the lives of so many. Sadly, after almost 19 years of living his life to the fullest, Tom was called home by God on October 15, 2015.
In order to preserve his good nature in our hearts, The Thomas Matthew Miloscia Foundation was started by Tom’s mother, alongside family friends Michelle and Gregory Milano. Mrs. Miloscia currently serves as the communicating secretary of the organization. She, along with the rest of her family, has begun to lend a helping hand to others who are dealing with the pressures of cancer in one way or another.
Mrs. Milano is the organization’s president, and her husband holds the role of treasurer. After moving to the area in 2008, the Milano’s sons, John ’15 and Nicholas ’17, came to know both Tom and his brother Matthew ’16 very well. The boys spent several years together at Sts. Philip and James before they all attended Chaminade. The camaraderie among the four boys brought the rest of their families close together.
“He was truly like a son to me,” reflected Mrs. Milano. “When he passed, there was such a void to be filled. We wanted to try to continue to do the things that he did during his time with us.”
The developing foundation ultimately plans on performing many tasks to memorialize Tom and ease the suffering of families struggling with cancer. Since every patient’s encounter with cancer is unique, The Thomas Matthew Miloscia Foundation will provide personalized assistance to anyone who needs it. Those involved will also partake in various acts of community service.
The staff of the organization welcomes anyone interested in participating in one or more of their fundraisers. The first project was recently held at the Homecoming Farm in Amityville on Saturday, November 19. Volunteers performed work in the fields alongside members of Chaminade’s Emmaus apostolic program.
The foundation will also be turning one of Tom’s favorite pastimes into a way to raise funds. Shortly before his passing, Tom had created a fantasy football league with a group of his fellow Chaminade alumni, including two of his former teachers, Mr. Dubon and Mr. Joseph Amorizzo ’07. Many of Tom’s friends are interested in making a tradition out of Tom’s beloved hobby, and so all those who are interested will be able to join a fantasy football league in Tom’s memory after providing a minimal donation to the foundation started in his name.
“I think it will be a great way to think of him and celebrate his life each football weekend,” explained Mr. Dubon.
The foundation expects to announce a more comprehensive calendar of events in the near future and is also open to suggestions focused on additional ways of raising awareness.
Furthermore, both individuals and businesses are invited to donate to the foundation to ensure that it can take the necessary measures to achieve its goals. The money will be used to support families of cancer patients, as well as other organizations that seek to ease the effects of the disease. The foundation has already made contributions to several institutions, including Make-A-Wish of Suffolk County, PALS, Friends of Karen, and Cancer Research Institute, all of which reached out to Tom during his fight against cancer. By pledging at least $250, corporations can become sponsors, which are featured on the foundation’s website for a year.
The leaders of The Thomas Matthew Miloscia Foundation view setting up a scholarship to Chaminade in Tom’s name as their highest priority at the moment. The grant would be awarded annually to a young man who, like Tom, has courageously accepted the challenges he has faced. It may be given to a student who has experienced the effects of cancer in his own life, or perhaps to one who has demonstrated a great deal of persistence in his athletic endeavors. This scholarship would serve as a true testament to Tom’s benevolence by helping students attend the school that he loved.
Mrs. Milano expressed her desire to make this idea a reality, saying, “It should be an immense honor to see his name carry on in this way. I would love for someone to have the cost of his education covered for resembling Thomas’s character and sharing his spirit of benevolence.”
The establishment of such a fitting tribute relies on the generosity of the Chaminade family, and there is no better way for all who have been moved by Thomas to honor his life. The foundation’s website, thomasmiloscia.com, contains more information on how to get involved.
Tom was taken from us too soon, and no words can fully reconcile the loss of someone so fundamentally good. The Thomas Matthew Miloscia Foundation will remind us to keep Tom in our hearts. By reflecting on his life, we can all learn that actions as simple as brightening someone’s morning with a smile can inspire hope in the lives of others.