Heyl: Family thankful for today, and ones that follow
Jay Mitlo insists that he and his family are blessed. The words startle.
They aren't what one would anticipate hearing from someone whose 5-year-old son is terminally ill. But Mitlo, 43, of Penn Hills values preconceived notions about as much as he values pity and sympathy for his situation — very minimally.
“Everyone has their own story. Everyone suffers,” he said. “My heart breaks for all the people who pretend like nothing ever is wrong, like they always have it all together. My heart breaks for them because they're lying.”
The harsh truth for Trey Mitlo, of which he remains mercifully unaware, is this: He has lived longer with a cancer diagnosis than he lived before receiving one. He has had all the standard treatments for the disease. Doctors say he probably has only months to live.
Difficult days are ahead. Before they occur, Mitlo and his wife, Rachel, want to provide a week of fun for Trey and his two older siblings.
“We want him and Joe and Bella to just be normal and laugh and live a little,” he said. “We don't want their next memory of Trey to be that of him dying. We're not ready for that.”
Two years ago, Trey visited Disney World in Orlando, Fla., an opportunity the Make-a-Wish program made possible. Jay and Rachel want him to experience that again, with his brother and sister, but Disney vacations aren't exactly as inexpensive as a weekend trip to Erie's Splash Lagoon.
So two weeks ago, the Mitlos started a fundraising campaign at FundAnything.com. They sought to raise $8,000, which they figured was enough to pay for a week for the family at Disney.
“The response was unbelievable,” Mitlo said. “It was humbling, and at times it was comical, how much we jumped up from hour to hour. We hit our goal at 7:30 the next morning.”
Mitlo theorizes that donations rolled in so quickly because of his community involvement. He is the former executive pastor of Rolling Hills Church in Penn Hills. He has coached Penn Hills High School volleyball teams and is the public address announcer for other school teams.
As of Tuesday, people donated more than $19,000. Mitlo labeled the amount “staggering and a little awkward” because the family raised more than enough for the trip. The extra money will cover expenses related to Trey's illness, he said.
They leave the first weekend in April for Orlando. The Mitlos won't tell the kids until it's time to leave.
“This trip is as much about Joe and Bella as it is about Trey,” Mitlo said. “It's about celebrating life. We're going to celebrate every minute we're down there.”
After that? Mitlo doesn't dwell on it.
“We have today,” he said. ”That's all anybody has, really.”
Eric Heyl is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7857 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Offense awakens to lead Steelers past Panthers
- Peduto’s first budget proposal seeks to increase property tax rate
- Civil rights organization urges developer to scrap hotel plan for August Wilson Center
- Steelers notebook: Rooney says owners support Goodell
- Game changers: Turnover leads to elusive TD for Steelers
- Rossi: State of NFL gives Steelers a chance
- Pirates notebook: Bucs set single-season attendance record
- Penguins forward Megna’s skill set might be perfect fit
- Coal gathering opens with dour assessment, political vitriol
- Mother sues Butler County Jail, Butler Memorial Hospital after son dies in custody
- Penguins notebook: Carcillo hopes to give team physical edge