Angelina lives on through love of music
Though she has been gone over three years, the name and the memory of Angelina Miele still live on through the music that she loved. Angelina, 11, who lived in Montoursville and Loyalsock Township, died in July 2015 from a rare form of cancer — synovial sarcoma. Her love of music spured her family to continue the fight against cancer and help other children in similar situations.
According to her stepmother, Nicole Miele, a jukebox was created by TouchTunes and named “The Angelina.” A portion of the profits from this jukebox go to a foundation called Angelina’s Song and is run by Nicole Miele and her husband, Angelina’s father, Lou Miele.
Back in April of this year, Angelina’s Song was awarded a 501c3 status, which, according to Nicole Miele, will help put more music in children’s hospitals. Nicole Miele said examples of this are music therapists, instruments and, of course, jukeboxes, as well as fund music lessons for children struggling with any illness. The second goal of Angelina’s Song is to fund pediatric cancer research.
In 2016, TouchTunes former CEO Charles Goldstuck brought Nicole and Lou Miele into his office and said they were naming their newest jukebox Angelina in honor of their daughter and a portion of each sale would go to Angelina’s Song.
“The jukebox was unveiled in March and people all over the country have contacted us wanting to support Angelina’s Song and they have done it different ways such as a portion of the proceeds (from the jukebox revenue) as well as corporate sponsorships,” Nicole Miele said.
Lou Miele said this was “very exciting.”
“Because of TouchTunes financial commitment to Angelina’s Song, it made Angelina’s Song a reality,” he said.
Angelina was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in 2015. Nicole Miele said the doctors found a tumor wrapped around Angelina’s intestines.
It was removed in 2014. Then in March 2015, three tumors were found and removed — but in June 2015, nine more tumors were found. On July 30, 2015, she passed away surrounded by her family.
For 16 months, Nicole Miele said, Angelina kept up an attitude that inspired everyone around her.
“Angelina was extremely spunky,” Nicole Miele said. “She was always dancing, singing and doing cartwheels and very energetic.”
Angelina’s step-mother explained their interest in music came from a simple act of amusement one day when she was receiving treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She said it was a tough day of medical tests and waiting out the clock for the next medical procedure and then a musical therapist knocked on the door and walked in a with a box of instruments.
“He had a tambourine, a ukulele and other little instruments,” Miele said. Within minutes, this music therapist had everyone in her room and playing an instrument and it “changed the mood.”
Lou Miele said afterward the instruments had to be sanitized, yet they realized there was a need for more musical therapists.
“Why is there only one guy here?” Nicole Miele said, adding there were 500 beds at CHOP, but only one musical therapist.
“I started researching (about the power of music) and I found pain levels are lowered, and there is less use of opioid drugs and anxiety levels lessen,” Nicole Miele said.
Nicole Miele saw this first hand.
“When Angelina was in pain or needed to get pumped for chemo treatment, she would have a song she played,” Nicole Miele said.
“I realized this is really important, because I think everybody has a song they escape, too, or something that pumps them up with energy or something sad that takes you somewhere else or takes you back to something,” she said.
“This is widely known as a person’s fight song,” Lou Miele said.
Thanks to the funds raised via Angelina’s Song and the jukebox, the Mieles said their group was able to install a jukebox at CHOP, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University Medical Center in Las Vegas.
“As soon we we put in that jukebox, the kids were so excited and it changed the room. The kids were playing Taylor Swift,” Miele said.
The ultimate endgame of Angelina’s Song is to take this nationwide. The foundation will support cancer research while donating money to music programs, jukeboxes and funding for schooling for music therapists at children’s hospitals.
Both Mieles mentioned the establishment of a scholarship at Williamsport’s Uptown Music Collective. The first scholarship went to Isabella Cole, from Loyalsock.
“We’ve already been talking to other children’s hospitals and they seem interested,” Miele said. “Some children’s hospitals have music programs, others do not. We are just meeting with hospitals to see what their needs are and how we can help.”
Nicole Miele said the foundation reflects Angelina’s personality.
“We are giving back to sick children in a fun and musical way, that Angelina would have been proud of,” said Lou Miele. “I know she is proud of it.”
“She was just amazing and when she was in the hospital, she would say ‘Come on, let’s do something for the kid next door,’ “ Miele said.
At one point, Angelina was in remission around Christmas 2014. She asked Lou Miele if they could go out and take “boxes of toys” to kids still sick at CHOP.
Nicole Miele recalled Angelina had a strong faith. While she fought her disease, she always remained positive about her future.
“The greatest thing about us forming this foundation was being able to say her name,” Nicole Miele said. She explained that after losing Angelina, they had a hard time even talking about her. “But thanks to Angelina’s Song and the Angelina jukebox, we are now smiling and this has become our therapy and helps us get through this, in a good and positive way.”
This article was originally published on Nov. 15, 2018, in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.