Benjamin Milak Memorial
Scholarship Fund

What is this Scholarship all about?»
History of the Scholarship»
Scholarship criteria and qualifications»
Download an application with instructions»
Get more information.


      What is this scholarship all about? It's about remembering and honoring the memory of a remarkable young man who left this world far too early.

      On August 26, 1991, at the age of 16, Benjamin Milak was diagnosed with leukemia. In October, after two courses of chemotherapy, Ben was declared to be in remission. However, a routine bone marrow test in January 1992 showed that he had suffered a relapse.

      Ben underwent several months of additional treatment at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. His doctors were not successful in getting Ben back into remission. Ben lost his courageous battle with leukemia on August 15, 1992.

      Ben was an active, outgoing young man. As a Boy Scout, he attained the rank of Life Scout. Before his illness he enjoyed biking, camping, and looked forward to skiing. He was a member of his high school's track team and stage crew. Throughout his young life Ben aspired to someday work in the field of communication or entertainment.

      During his education he received assistance from the Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) Hearing Support Services staff for his hearing loss. Despite his hearing and his illness, Ben was a successful student and completed his sophomore year of high school at Kenmore East Senior High School.

      An active member of First Trinity Lutheran Church in Tonawanda, Ben traveled with his youth group to a national conference held in New Orleans several weeks before his death.

      Ben's friendliness, spirit, and faith was an inspiration to family, friends, teachers, medical staff, and all others who knew him throughout his illness. He always maintained a sense of optimism about his recovery. He was truly both a fighter and a believer in life.

      This Scholarship was established after Ben's death to honor his memory and the attributes he displayed during his life.


      The idea for the Benjamin Milak Scholarship was conceived in 1993 by several of Ben's former teachers at Erie 1 BOCES, including Beverly Herstek, Mark and Sydney Sterling teachers of the hearing impaired, and Mary Vecchio an audiologist. When approached about the possibility of establishing a scholarship in her son's name, his mom, Mary Ann Milak-Young, offered immediate support. A fund was established through the Community Foundation (formally the Buffalo Foundation) and the first scholarships were awarded in June of 1994, the year Ben would have graduated from high school. To date, numerous scholarships have been awarded, with at least one scholarship awarded for each year since 1994. A scholarship selection committee composed of five voting member and Ben's mother select annual recipients. The committee typically awards scholarships between $1000-$1500.


      Well rounded students wishing to apply for this scholarship must:
•Be impacted by a learning disability, hearing impairment or cancer.
•Be graduating in this current school year.
•Have applied to a post-secondary educational program.
•Possess a realistic career goal, one which they are capable of achieving.
•Be community minded.
•Have a respect for the natural world.
•Possess a keen sense of humor, honesty and optimism.

      Candidates who qualify must:
•Complete an application and submit it with a copy of an official high school transcript by February 1.
•Attend a high school in Erie or Niagara County.
•Write an brief essay describing how they feel they meet the above criteria.
•Present two letters of recommendation from non-family members.  One letter must be from a teacher or guidance counselor familiar with their academic and social achievements.


Download the application, instructions and scholarship criteria below:

Click here to download the application
in (*.pdf): Application.pdf

Complete the application and submit it with a copy of an official high school transcript by February 1 and email to Please see application for detailed qualifications and instructions.


If you have any questions please e-mail from Milak Scholarship Web Site

"If I had my choice between a moon walk and the life of a single child who had leukemia, I would never look upward."

James T. Grace, Jr. MD
Director, Roswell Park Cancer Institute