Christmas Comes Early to One Winchester Family
Teammates, coaches and friends gathered on Christmas Eve to present Milan Moosavizadeh's family with the van their fundraising efforts had helped make possible.
Christmas Eve on a blustery cold day in Winchester, a cheerful group gathered at Milan’s Moosavizadeh’s home. What had seemed like a dream just a month ago was now very much a reality.
A new van sat parked in the driveway, courtesy of not only his teammates, family and friends, but an entire community of people who helped make a worthwhile wish come true. When Winchester High School Assistant Soccer Coach Ernie Drougas presented the keys to Milan’s mother, Jennifer Chin, it was the culmination of one tremendously successful fundraising effort that exceeded almost everyone’s expectations.
Milan’s mother was moved by the outpouring of support that the community has shown to her family.
“It’s just incredible," she said with tears in her eyes.
“This is a family here,” she said motioning to everyone gathered outside her home. “It touches my heart that everyone has done so much for us.”
It seemed only fitting that in a season for giving that a group of folks who had worked so hard to reach a goal had the satisfaction of delivering their gift to the Moosavizadeh family.
It all started with a Friday night phone call. Drougas was talking to recent alum and former soccer captain, Nick Woolf. They wanted to do something to help Milan, a former teammate who had suffered a cardiac arrest at a soccer tournament last May. The two hatched a plan for an alumni soccer game, and Nick’s father, Howard, quickly got on board to help flesh out the event to include an evening reception and silent auction. Through their efforts, more than $40,000 was raised.
“I didn’t think we were going to come close to that. This was an act of God,” said Howard Woolf. “Our mouths were just hanging open the whole night of the auction. “We were just amazed at the contributions.”
It has been an ongoing theme when it comes to this tragic event. The story has always been how willing people have been to help and how generous the community has been.
“There are two dozen stories I have of people who have done so much to help out. I think what drives all of us is that I could have been our children and we just all want to do what we can to help out in any way,” said Woolf.
“This was not even in my wildest imagination,” said Drougas. “It was the soccer community though, and then everyone started coming out of the woodwork and here we are.”
Drougas, and the Woolf family were joined by current Winchester High School soccer stars: Marc Greenblatt, Sam Paul, Ben Bratt, Andrew Laugharn, Conor Calnan, Lubo Svetiev, and Kevin DeSa. Also on hand were Tom and Jackie Hamilton from TeamMilan.org.
In many ways Friday marked a passing of the torch. The MatchforMilan had achieved its goal, and now TeamMilan.org would be taking over. They are establishing both a charitable foundation with the purpose of equipping schools in Winchester and beyond with defibrillators as well as a Trust Fund for Milan.
“Everyone and anyone who helps out is part of TeamMilan,” said Tom Hamilton. “It’s been really inspiring. Donations have been coming in every day and not just from Winchester. Donors really want to help. There is a lot of willingness amongst this community.”
TeamMilan already has tentative plans for another fundraiser in Feburary to coincide with the planned launch of their public charity. You can visit their website, www.TeamMilan.org to stay abreast of their plans moving forward or to learn how to get involved.
Hamiton was confident that the alumni soccer match that really got things rolling will be a key fundraiser for many years to come. Plans have already been discussed for next year’s game
“I think I’d have to move if there was no alumni game next year,” said Woolf with a smile.
One milestone had been reached and there was optimism for an even brighter future.