By Natalie Bober
People who met Mia Gurevitz -- even briefly -- remember her courage, sassiness and kindness.
Mia, 7, died on October 25, after battling an inoperable brain tumor for more than five years.
Lake Forest College lost one of its biggest fans. Mia became involved with the College after softball alum Nikki Miller '13 introduced the Forester softball team to the Friends of Jaclyn program, which helps children battling cancer by pairing them with college sports teams.
“When Mia was three, Lake Forest College head softball coach Joe Kinsella and I met Mia, her parents and her sister Rachel at a Starbucks in Deerfield,” Miller said. “By the end of the night, Mia was holding my hand and chasing me around the parking lot. We knew it was a perfect fit.
“We ended up inviting her to our holiday party in late November or early December of 2013, and that was kind of our first team involvement/outing with Mia and her family.
“As soon as the team met Mia, it gave us a lot more perspective,” Miller said. “No matter what was going on in our lives, it didn’t compare to anything that she was going through.”
Mia became a “member” of the Lake Forest College softball team on March 22, 2013.
“Mia was very much a part of the Forester family,” Lake Forest College Athletic Director Jackie Slaats said.
Mia was given her own locker, as well as her own bat and glove and a Lake Forest College hat. Also, Mia attended several softball games.
“She was full of energy and spirt and was a fan of Lake Forest College softball, but we were bigger fans of hers,” Kinsella said.
Mia was also an ardent Cubs fan, particularly of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, whose foundation supports families with children battling cancer.
“…Mia was the first child I ever met on my visits to [Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital],” Rizzo said on his Twitter page. “She started [my visits] off with a bang with her spunky attitude [and] contagious laughter.”
Mia’s ferocious fight against cancer was well known at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.
More than anything, Mia was a selfless warrior who taught those who knew her how to find courage and tenacity, according to Mia’s uncle Jay Stevens.
“She may have been scared as hell, but she was damned if it would stop her,” Stevens said.
“Even on her worst days we heard Mia’s infectious laughter and saw her patented eye roll when our jokes weren’t up to her standards.
“Mia cared more for others than herself. She never failed to ask her friends and family about their day.”
When Mia was in the hospital, she always asked about the drive to the hospital, and whether the traffic was bad, according to Stevens.
“Inside that tiny, pint-sized package was more personality and charisma than one would expect in a child that young -- and she was always this way,” family friend Michelle Weiner said. “Mia was magical -- when she was with you, she made you feel like the most special person in the whole world to her in that moment.
“She was the epitome of love and charm and drama and sass and spunk. And every single person who met her fell head over heels in love with her because of her unique, quirky personality and that special unforgettable ‘Mia-ness’.”
Mia spent her last days having an early birthday party, eating McDonald’s French fries and playing on her iPad.
“This child is just far too special for this world,” said Mia’s father Dan Gurevitz. “Her light shines too bright. It’s needed somewhere else I guess.”
Mia touched more lives than someone who lived 70 or 80 years, according to Kinsella. “We will definitely miss her.”
By Natalie Bober