Getting to Know Your Health Sciences Foundation Board of Directors: Tom Mihaljevic

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
Tom Mihaljevic
Tom Mihaljevic

By Heather Vita

THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – “Always surround yourself with people smarter than you,” said Tom Mihaljevic, a Director on the Board of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. “Together, you can have a real impact.”

And a real impact he’s had. Tom initially became involved with the Health Sciences Foundation through the Freedom 55 Financial Thunder Bay Hockey Celebrity Golf Classic that began back in 2006. As part of the Organizing Committee, he worked with many colleagues to raise funds for the Northern Cancer Fund through this extremely popular and well-received event.

“For me, the best thing that came out of that event was knowing we’d touched lives of people we’ll never know,” he said. “When you give, it’s because you want to make a difference, but you’re not always going to be able to see that difference first-hand. I have been lucky enough to speak with patients in our Cancer Centre and I have heard their stories and seen the impact that fundraising has had on bringing new equipment to the Centre. But for every one person I talk to, I know there are so many more I’ll never meet. For me, that truly provides the motivation to give.”

Following the Golf Classic, Tom became part of the fundraising cabinet for the Exceptional Cancer Care Campaign and then subsequently joined the Board of Directors. “I’ve always felt that if you want to make a difference you better get involved,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that what my children see me doing will ultimately impact how they choose to live their lives and contribute to their communities as they grow up.”

While many view Tom as a very successful business person (he’s been with Freedom 55 Financial for 29 years) and an involved volunteer with multiple organizations, life hasn’t always been easy and because of some struggles in his early years, he’s placed great importance on financial stability for him and his family, along with giving back to his community to ensure others are taken care of. “I’m very blessed,” he said. “I’ve chosen, through our Church, through our children’s schools, and through the Hospital, to make an impact, and hopefully motivate others to do the same.”

“In my time as a Financial Advisor, and through taking additional leadership positions within my company, I’ve been very fortunate to help people accomplish specific goals and objectives,” continued Tom. “It’s not just the impact you can have on this generation, but on the next one as well. When I make a donation, I know that it can be used now to build a better future. To me, it’s imperative that we support the Hospital because it’s critical we have access to care here at home. I honestly can’t imagine having to go out of town to receive care that we don’t have here; it would be a terrifying experience. We deserve access to care that’s equivalent to anywhere else in the province.”

Next on Tom’s agenda is the drive to support the newly-announced cardiovascular surgery program. “It’s definitely the next step to providing a well rounded healthcare system within Northwestern Ontario,” he said. “This one’s going to be a game changer and will lift the profile and significance of our Hospital within the healthcare community of, not only Ontario, but Canada too. Listen, we don’t have the glitter of some other hospitals, like Mt. Sinai, for instance, but we are going to make this happen and we’re going to get excellent cardiac and vascular care here. I want to leave a legacy that says, ‘I was part of that’.”

Tom knows that there’s a lot of work to be done to bring cardiovascular surgery to life. But, as he said, “My colleagues on the Board are passionate about giving and wanting to make our Hospital better for everyone in Northwestern Ontario. I am very confident in our ability to lead our community in making this a reality.”

Tom concluded, “As with anyone who’s taken on a leadership role, I want to stretch myself in everything I do because that’s how progress is made. And my greatest hope is that my children will have the same mentality – to grow up and take the skills they’re developing now and ensure they give back to their communities. The spirit of philanthropy can be modeled. That’s what I’ve tried to do my entire life and what I will continue to do in my future.”

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