It was Dec. 14 -- seven weeks since 16-year-old Salvatore Milo, of Farmingdale, had been struck by a car while walking home from Farmingdale High School. The junior had undergone emergency brain surgery and operations to reconstruct his skull, repair his fractured leg and broken shoulder, and insert a feeding tube. Once Milo’s doctor gave him the green light to eat normally again, his first request -- which he mouthed to his parents because he still could not talk -- was “Red Mango.”
Lisa Milo rushed out of St. Charles Rehabilitation Hospital in Port Jefferson to the self-serve frozen yogurt chain’s nearest shop. There, she assembled her son’s favorite concoction: pomegranate and chocolate with every color of “boba” balls they had on top.
For a mother who had been living what she called a “nightmare,” since last Oct. 26, fearing her child would not survive the traumatic brain injury he sustained, this seemed like a small miracle.
“He was asking for Red Mango before he could even speak,” said his aunt Anna Milo, who contacted the company earlier this year seeking some prizes to be donated for a fundraiser she was holding for her nephew.
When Dan Kim, founder and chief creative officer of Red Mango, heard of Salvatore Milo’s story, he sent the frozen yogurt fan a $100 Red Mango gift card, hat and shirt. On Sunday, the company’s Plainview store, at 357 South Oyster Bay Rd., will also hold a fundraiser from 3-7 p.m. on Milo’s behalf, donating 20 percent of the store’s proceeds during the event toward his medical expenses.
Determined to return to school, attend his junior prom and one day, go to college, Salvatore Milo has been progressing much quicker than his doctors had predicted.
“He had to start from scratch, learning once again how to eat, walk and talk, like a baby,” says Lisa Milo. “But little by little, he’s doing much better.”
He’s regained his ability to speak, he recently started walking again with a cane and was able to return home on Jan. 4 after spending more than a month at St. Charles. Milo is continuing his rehab in an outpatient setting and working with tutors with the hopes of returning to school this spring.
“Right now, he can’t function 100 percent on his own,” Lisa Milo says. “It could take years to get back to normal.”
Although Salvatore’s long-term memory seems to be intact, his short-term memory was affected, so the honor student struggles with school work and is easily distracted. His mother is waiting for a report from her son’s neuropsychologist and meeting with his school’s special education director, aiming to get her son back in school by late April.
Lisa Milo said her son will be attending his junior prom, though. He already has a date and his mother just recently picked up their tickets.
“It’s not going to be easy for him,” she says. “We’re just happy he’s alive and well.”