Rochester Kids, also known as the Jeff Milano-Johnson Fund, was established in memory of Jeff Milano-Johnson, a 14 year old boy who died suddenly in 2007. Jeff died of a ruptured brain aneurysm while warming up for a lacrosse game. The goal of the fund is to improve the lives and future of youth in the Rochester area.
The Fund was created as Jeff's legacy. Several minutes after Jeff collapsed on the lacrosse field, another young man, Shamar Patterson, 16, was killed in a drive by shooting in Rochester. Shamar was a junior at Gates-Chili High School and was visiting his grandmother and some childhood friends the day he died. Shamar's family had moved to the suburbs because they were safer than the city. Similar to Jeff, Shamar was "a very outgoing, energetic class clown."
Jeff and Shamar's mothers met on the 4th floor of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit the day both of their sons died. Subsequently, the families became friends.
Jeff and Shamar's lives and deaths were different from one another. Yet both families share similar pain and hurt. They also share common dreams for their children. It is the image of Jeff and Shamar together leaving this world and entering the next that has sharpened the focus of Rochester kids. It continues to motivate us to work tirelessly towards bridging the gap between the city of Rochester and Pittsford and other suburbs.
Rochester, NY is the fifth poorest city in the country among the top 75 largest metropolitan areas. Forty-three percent of city children live below the poverty line -- double the county, state and national levels. About 85% of the kids in the city receive federally subsidized lunches. Rochester has a 46% high school graduation rate. A recent study reported that only 9 out of 100 black males entering high school graduate. There are two "community health" markers looked at worldwide to determine the needs of a community. One is the infant mortality rate and the other the teenage pregnancy rate. Rochester's infant mortality rate is three times the rate in New York City and almost twice the rate of central Harlem. Its teenage pregnancy rate rivals that of Third World countries.
Rochester Kids is making a difference in the lives of Rochester youth by lending a hand to youth who have demonstrated the potential to succeed and providing those who have not, the right opportunities to put them in a better position to do so. Organized around the Parable of the Starfish the Fund extends Jeff's life, love, joy and kindness well into the future.