Cancer Patient, Inspiration for Jokes4Miles, Dies at 20
(CHICAGO) -- An inspirational campaign called Jokes4Miles, meant to make sick children laugh, was launched by a young man, Miles Austrevich, with the help of his father, Len.
Miles died on Dec. 23, 2012, after a four-year battle with a rare form of brain cancer, his family announced Wednesday. He was 20 and had lived in Chicago. He was described by his father as "one of the greatest warriors that had ever lived."
Unwavering in his resolve and touched by the public's support, Miles insisted that the campaign was important and should continue benefitting other cancer patients.
Created last year, Jokes4Miles collected jokes and well-wishes to lift Miles' spirits as he battled his disease. The response was overwhelming: In just a year more than 3,100 jokes from 192 cities, 44 states and eight countries were collected. The jokes came from all sorts of people, including kids at school Joke-a-Thons, others affected by cancer and even cast members from shows like Arrested Development, 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.
"Miles was a huge hip-hop fan," Len Austrevich told ABC News. "Kanye West once spent hours with him and even put on a private concert."
Though he said he treasured all the support, Miles' favorite responses were from other kids.
"This kid did this entire rap about Miles. I think that really touched him – the kids impressed him as much as anything." Austrevich said.
Watch Miles' rap tribute
Miles was loved by his family, caretakers, colleagues and teachers, who said he transcended the differences between people and made genuine connections with them.
In addition to his love for music, Miles was passionate about photography, managing his first-ever trip to the Grand Canyon between stem-cell transplants last fall.
Watch Miles' Grand Canyon trip
Miles had been accepted to four Ivy League colleges and was enrolled at Yale, though he deferred because of his illness.
"He didn't want to be a doctor, he didn't want to be a physician," Austrevich said. "His interests were so wide he wanted to study anything."
Miles would say time and again how much the jokes meant to him, always floored that people cared about him in that way.
"If you don't meet them you can describe a person but, words just do not do it justice, it's this beaming positivity about him, he never complained, he was an inspiration," Austrevich said.
The Jokes4Miles campaign will continue, and by mid-January will have all 3,100 family-friendly jokes posted on the site for kids to view. Eventually, they would like to have tablets set to their homepage at Children's Hospitals worldwide, benefitting other cancer patients and their families with laughter, support and a sense of connectedness to others.
To find out more, please visit Jokes4Miles.com.
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