As a community struggled to come to terms with the sudden death of a young athlete, a mother took to social media Friday to express both her grief and her enduring love of her son, Sachem High School East football player Joshua Mileto, who died the day before in a training drill on school grounds.
“My sweet sweet baby boy. You continue to be selfless and I couldn’t be more proud of you my love. Remember, Mommy loves you,” read a Facebook post by a woman who identified herself as Mileto’s mother. In the post, she noted that Mileto’s organs had been donated. “Received the phone call very early this morning for the transplant team, any and all viable options were completed.”
Friday night, students and parents streamed into Sachem High School East for a vigil for Mileto. Flowers were put up against the school gates, which bore signs reading “RIP #5” and “Sachem strong.” Engines from the Farmingville and Holtsville fire departments stood between the school and its football field, a massive American flag suspended from their ladders.
Visitation for Mileto, 16, will be held Monday from 3 to 9 p.m. at the McManus Lorey Funeral Home at 2084 Horseblock Rd. in Medford. A funeral Mass will be held Tuesday at 9:45 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church at 800 Portion Rd. in Lake Ronkonkoma, with burial to follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 3442 Route 112, Coram.
A memorial scholarship in Mileto’s name has also been set up and contributions can be made via the funeral home.
Sachem school officials have canceled Monday’s scheduled first official day of football practice at Sachem High School North and East “out of respect for the family and loved ones,” according to a notice posted on the school website Friday afternoon. All football-related activities are canceled at both schools on Tuesday as well.
The district will announce an update Tuesday regarding the football schedule for the rest of the week.
“As our community begins to heal from this tragedy, we will continue to offer support services for those in need. The district continues to extend its condolences to the family and loved ones during this difficult time,” read the notice from Kenneth E. Graham, superintendent of schools.
Thursday morning, five athletes were performing a drill carrying a log overhead — with Mileto somewhere in the middle — when “the log fell and struck” him, police have said. He was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A day earlier, another player from the same team was injured when he tripped over a tire and was taken to Stony Brook with injuries that were described as not life-threatening, police and school officials said. As of Friday afternoon, a hospital spokesman said, “He remains in Stony Brook University Hospital and in good condition.”
Meanwhile, at least one other Long Island school district has notified parents to reassure them of safety practices.
“Although there are always potential injuries in football and all sports, we wanted to reassure you that our concern is always for the well-being of your child,” read a letter dated Friday to parents in the Huntington school district.
Mileto was participating in the six-week Sachem East Summer Football camp, which began July 5 and was scheduled to end Friday. It cost $325.
The Sachem East Touchdown Club has established a GoFundMe page for donations to the family. It has raised more than $37,000 so far.
— With Jesse Coburn