Miles Austrevich, Inspiration for Jokes4Miles.com, Dies at 20
Bill Murray, Jay Leno and others were among the celebrities who contributed to the site created to lift his spirits as he fought a rare form of brain cancer.
Miles Austrevich, who inspired Jokes4Miles.com, a campaign spearheaded by his father to collect jokes and well-wishes to lift his spirits as he fought a rare form of brain cancer, died Dec. 23, his family announced Wednesday. He was 20.
Austrevich was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, when doctors discovered he had a brain tumor. During his four-year battle, his treatments were well-documented and shared with doctors and scientists researching cures for recurrent, germ-cell brain tumors. Austrevich’s case has been cited in attempts to further insurance coverage of repeat stem-cell transplants.
Jokes4Miles.com gained momentum as the public got a glimpse of Austrevich’s positive attitude and infectious smile. The media rallied, and the cause enjoyed radio, television, print and web exposure, including national spots on the evening news and morning programs and eventually the Yahoo homepage. Castmembers of Arrested Development, The Wire, 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live participated as well as Bill Murray and Jay Leno.
Kanye West visited him, and Pitchfork Festival founder Ryan Schreiber and several of his favorite bands taped personal messages to cheer him up.
Other members of the Hollywood community who rallied behind Austrevich included Michael Green, CEO and founder of management and production company The Collective, and Bruce Hills, founder of the Just for Laughs Festival.
Submissions poured in from 192 cities, 44 states and eight countries; in just one year, Jokes4Miles collected more than 3,100 videos. Touched by the public’s support, Austrevich insisted that the campaign start benefiting other children. He and his father, Len Austrevich, a comedian who has written for the late Richard Jeni and others, agreed never to solicit monetary donations, only jokes.
A celebration of his life will take place Jan. 19 in Chicago.