by JENNIFER FRAKES
photos by Zeena Gregg Photography
(photos taken at The Country Club of Rancho Bernardo)

This Family Gives New Meaning to Living Life to the Max

For Andy, Melissa, Hannah and Nicky Mikulak, every day is a chance to live life to the fullest, a chance to live a life of adventure, service and gratitude. “We lost our middle child, Max, to cancer in 2008. We have our moments of extreme sadness and always will. But, we are also happy much of the time and are motivated to ‘Live Life to the Max,’” revealed Melissa. Describing Max as “Forever 7,” the Mikulaks honor his memory by hosting a small party each year on Max’s birthday. “We put together party favor bags and deliver them to kids with cancer at Rady’s Children’s Hospital. We then grab In-N-Out and head down to Dave & Buster’s for some fun times together,” said Melissa. This annual get-together means so much to the family for many reasons, but Melissa is especially touched to see Max’s friends come together in his memory to help others.

Family_Mikulaks2Melissa and Andy, who met while working at a downtown San Diego advertising agency, are kept busy with the kids, work and volunteer service. Andy is the general manager for Weil Lifestyle, a Tempe-based media and e-commerce company. Melissa is a stay-at-home mom and the event director for Max’s Ring of Fire, a non-profit organization she and Andy founded shortly after Max’s passing. “Max’s Ring of Fire is dedicated to raising funds for childhood cancer research. While accompanying Max through his cancer journey, we learned that childhood cancer research is tragically underfunded. In fact, only two drugs have been approved by the FDA for use on children’s cancers in the past thirty years,” explained Melissa. (For more information about Max’s Ring of Fire, visit www.maxsringoffire.org.)

“We lost our middle child, Max, to cancer in 2008. We have our moments of extreme sadness and always will. But, we are also happy much of the time and are motivated to‘Live Life to the Max.’”

This inspirational family has lived in Carmel Valley since 2002 and has found that the area fits their lifestyle perfectly. “The proximity to the beach, North County’s coastal community feel and the great schools were the main reasons we decided to live in this area,” explained Melissa. Currently, Hannah is a freshman at Canyon Crest Academy and Nicky is a third grader at Solana Highlands. Hannah enjoys creative writing, photography and art. Nicky loves riding his bike to school and is an avid soccer fan. Both Hannah and Nicky take Jiu Jitsu and truly enjoy the sport. As a family, the Mikulaks can often be found hiking on local trails, visiting nearby parks and playgrounds and spending time at the beach.

At a Glance

Parents: Andy and Melissa Mikulak
Children: Hannah (14) – Freshman at CCA
Nicky (8) – 3rd grade at Solana Highlands
Max (Forever 7) – 2nd grade at Solana Highlands
Community: Carmel Valley/Santa Fe Summit since 2002
Hometown: Andy – Los Altos, CA; Melissa – San Diego, CA
Profession: Andy – Media Executive; Melissa – Homemaker & Non-Profit Event Director