In Memoriam ~ Jonathon M. Miskulin

Jonathon Michael Miskulin, 20, of Bloomington, passed away at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at OSF St. Joseph Hospital in Bloomington. Jon Michael Miskulin was an incredibly charismatic man. He devoted his life to helping children with special needs, his talent with music and his gift for inspiring others.

Jon created the Autism Awareness Foundation of Bloomington-Normal, which helped distribute information about Autism. In 2012 Jon renamed his foundation H.E.A.L., Heroes Embracing Autistic Lives. The new foundation helped encourage children with autism to embrace the aspects of their lives that set them apart from their peers. The foundation also encouraged students to stand up to bullying by promoting a more inclusive environment for all students.

For the past 6 years Jon has volunteered at the Unit 5 Autism Summer Camp where he has assisted with the development of many special needs children. His dedication and hard work in the community did not go unnoticed, and in 2008 he was awarded The Inspiration Award from the McLean County Autism Society. Jon was awarded a guitar from Music is the Medicine Foundation in 2011 for his continued involvement with children with Autism in Bloomington-Normal. In 2011 Jon was chosen as a recipient of the McLean County 25 under 25 Award, which recognizes individuals under 25 years old who have made significant contributions in the community. He also worked at the Bloomington Easter Seals Camp at Lake Bloomington this past summer, where he inspired disabled campers ages 6 to 65 with his spontaneous dance routines and musical talents.

Jon learned how to play the guitar as a teenager and continued to hone his craft. He played at several Catholic Church retreats including Teens Encounter Christ. He quickly learned how to write and compose his own music and played in several local bands.

Jon was a film enthusiast. His collection of movies coupled with his creative nature led to a hobby of film making at an early age. He was an aspiring cinematographer who planned one day to share his stories professionally. Jon’s life was one of faith and humility. He never wavered when he confronted behaviors or attitudes that conflicted with his Catholic faith. Jon was a strong opponent of bullying. He took a proactive fight against bullying in the form of speeches he delivered to elementary school aged children. He also defended his Pro-Life views by participating in the March for Life in Washington, DC with the ISU Newman Center.

Jonathon was a graduate of Normal Community High School, Class of 2011 where he was a 4 year cross country runner and received his varsity letter as a senior. He sang in the Men’s Choir for 2 years and loved dressing up in a tuxedo for performances, he even won a Mock Choir Award for “Best Dancer”. Most important to Jon was the work he created during his time taking classes in Digital Media. He created lasting images on many important occasions at NCHS. Jon competed in Ironmen Idol and Battle of the Bands all 4 years winning the coveted First Place his freshman year. One of the crowning achievements as a young man with autism was Jon being elected as a member of the Homecoming Court his senior year. Riding on the back of the convertible car smiling from ear to ear is a precious memory that we will always cherish. In his free time he was an avid collector of comics. His passion for comics led him to work part time at Bloomington-Normal’s only comic shop, Acme Comics.

He was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather John M. Miskulin and his maternal grandfather Richard L. Ploch. He is survived by his parents Joseph and Geralyn (Ploch) Miskulin, (Bloomington, IL) his sisters Jennifer (Kyle) Vest (Normal, IL) and Jessica (Tim) Chambers, (Bloomington, IL), his brother 1st LT Jacob (Stephanie) Miskulin, (Lacey, WA), nieces Kassidy Vest and Keegen Vest, nephew Carter Chambers, girlfriend Brenda Navarro, best friend Russ Leone and his beloved dog, Biscuit. He is also survived by his grandmothers, numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Jon chose to donate his organs through the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network. The Miskulin family would like to thank the staff at OSF St. Joseph for their exceptional care and compassion during this difficult time. The family has requested in lieu of flowers that donations be made to Heroes Embracing Autistic Lives, Inc. Foundation c/o Heartland Bank (Fort Jesse Branch) Normal, Illinois.

His influence in the autism community, the joy he brought to his family and friends and the compassion he showed to everyone he met will always be remembered.