Joey at 12 years old

Joey at 12 years old

Joey's Team  Joey Parise
 Baseball Fanatic... and Scholar

Joey's Team was the Yankees.
Joey loved his Yankees as much
as any Fan could love a Team!
Joey's Team

Ron's BLOGGIN' Website


Joey Scholarship Recipients


Ronald Joseph "Joey" Parise, Jr.

1986 - 2001

Forever Fourteen

This web page is dedicated to our late son Joey who passed away at the age of 14. Hopefully, over time, as the web site is developed, the story of Joey's short life will be told. He was an amazing, enjoyable person, and one who passes at such an early age seldom has the opportunity to leave his impression on the earth for having been here such a short time. Therefore, in part, we hope to keep Joey's spirit alive on this web page. There are two scholarships given each year in Joey's name at Suffield High School in Suffield, Connecticut, to the female and male applicants that best represent the athletic and academic prowess that Joey demonstrated at his young age. This is the high school at which Joey started, but was never able to finish. The town Little League Baseball program holds a tournament each year in Joey's name to contribute to the scholarship fund. Those children who participate in the tournament, as well as those interested high school seniors who apply for the scholarship, will be able to visit this website to learn more about Joey.

Joey Parise

Joey died March 4, 2001, after an 18-month battle with cardiomyopathy, a condition requiring a heart transplant, which never became available for Joey. His condition was first diagnosed in September 1999 after he had experienced flu-like symptoms for a few days. The pediatric cardiologist told us the first day he saw Joey that he might require a transplant, if other preliminary treatments did not work. This doctor, and others who saw Joey in the following months, assured us that this illness had nothing to do with Joey's earlier heart problems. Joey was born with congenital heart disease, but all felt that after about age four, Joey was normal.

Sensing that Joey's best chance was to make his own heart healthy again, we got second and third opinions, sought all kinds of alternative treatments, and prayed a whole lot. Unfortunately, by December of 2000, his condition had deteriorated so much that his father Ron, went with him to Children‘s Hospital of Philadelphia where further tests showed that he needed not only a new heart, but new lungs as well, which made the likelihood of a successful transplant even more remote. His mother Terri, and siblings Katie, Tommy, and Robbie, along with Ron, visited Joey for the last time on December 25, 26, and 27, when he was still very alert, although somewhat uncomfortable. We all had a very wonderful visit, exchanging gifts, typical banter, and the usual family chatter about baseball, friends, and school. But then on the 29th, Joey's condition suddenly took a turn for the worse, and the only way to save him at that point was to put him on life support. Joey was sustained for two months on a heart-lung machine, vying for time while we waited for organs to become available. During this period he was in a drug-induced coma to alleviate his discomfort. Ron maintained a bedside vigil at the hospital, making sure the doctors and nurses did everything possible to keep Joey comfortable, and acting as Joey's advocate for appropriate treatment. Among Joey's last words to us in December was a plea that he just be kept anesthetized until the doctors figured out how to help him. Unfortunately, no help ever came, and he died on a miserable Sunday evening with the five of us by his side. What an excruciatingly painful experience. Sometimes God is difficult to figure out.

We miss Joey every day, but we have many happy memories to keep him always close to us and in our hearts - family vacations, holiday reunions, endless games of baseball and soccer in our yard, water fights with the garden hose and super soakers. We don't know why this had to happen to our Joey, but maybe someday we will understand. Until then, the pain and sense of loss are almost unbearable. How could this have happened to him? Why did he have to get sick in the first place? There were many times during his 1-1/2 year struggle that things could have gone the other way for Joey, but they never did; he didn't get a single break. He complained about all the medicine he had to take, and he occasionally told us he was uncomfortable, although we now understand that he was in much more pain than he ever let us know about. But he never once asked, "Why me?" Joey was an exceptional student and athlete who loved baseball and the Yankees above all else. As an honor student and mechanically proficient computer wiz, Joey excelled in math and science. He was selected to take the SATs in middle school where he scored in the 90th percentile for graduating high school seniors, yet he had barely started eighth grade.

Although too ill to play baseball after Little League, his last two at-bats while playing were home runs, two of many in his too short career. And his last home run was a grand slam. Undeniably, and unbeknownst at the time, Joey's short career ended in style.

Ironically, one of the last English papers Joey wrote in school was about Lou Gehrig's farewell speech to baseball after his fatal illness was diagnosed. This is the speech where Gehrig said he was "the luckiest man on the face of the earth" for having been able to play baseball, even though by that time Gehrig knew he was dying. How prophetic for our dear Joey! Joey was a gift to us for fourteen years, and we thank God that he was a part of our lives and our family. His sense of humor, his insight, and his input into daily life will be missed. We know that heaven is a more perfect place because Joey is there.


Below are pictures, memorabilia, and stories about Joey. There is no particular order or arrangment, just an accumulation as they came to our attention or we recalled them. An interesting bit of trivia about Joey can be seen in the picture above holding the bat at age 12. Joey used the biggest bat in the bag, which he is holding in the above picture. The fat end of the bat is quite large. Yet, if you compare the fat end of the bat to Joey's wrists, which is larger? Indeed, when Joey was four years old, his wrists were larger than his mother's, a full grown woman in her thirties!

Sorry about the silly bit of trivia, but parents notice all kinds of anomalies about their children, as many of you well know. And we are no different. As an athlete, we have often wondered what Joey could have attained in sports, especially with his fanatical love for baseball. But that is all we have left, speculation.

(Note: To better view the photographs, your operating system may allow you to do the following: right-button click the mouse with the cursor on the picture you would like to view, and then left click on "View Image". Return to the web page using the return arrows in the upper left corner.)

Joey at 14 years-old

This is Joey on his 14th Birthday. Now ill, he still looks healthy.

Joey's 14th Birthday Party

Year Book Page for Joey

Joey would have graduated from high school in 2004. The family put a page in the school's year book in his memory. Joey liked Corvettes and the New York Yankees, and two of his favorite movies at the time were Dirty Work and Blues Brothers 2000. The collage shows Joey with his siblings and illustrates Joey's wit. Baseball was always the center of his universe.

High School Year Book Page

High School Year Book for Joey

Joey's class dedicated their senior year book to him and requested we write a note to the graduating class. We were very pleased that they honored Joey and remembered him since he had passed away as a freshman.

High School Yearbook in Memory of Joey


March 4, 2001

Dad's good-bye note to Joey

To Dear Joey, Forever 14:
       I recall telling you kids, many, many times, that the most difficult job of being a parent was having to discipline our children. Love manifests itself in many ways between parent and child, and I thought the most difficult time is when you have to punish your child because you truly love him. Well, now I must say to Katie, Tommy and Robbie, as I said to you, Joey, on several occasions over these last difficult weeks and months, that Oh my! How I was wrong about that! Dealing with your illness is by far the most difficult thing a parent must do. And now the unthinkable - the absolute worst job of being a parent is having to bury a child! My parents had to do it (God Bless Tommy); we have dear, close friends that had to do it (God Bless Eric); and now Mommy and I are here today, having to do the unthinkable ourselves (God Bless you, Dear Joey)!
       I remember the day you were born in Atlanta - about 2 am -- seems like all our children kept the same latenight hours as their father when they decided to HEAD their way into the world. At first you seemed fine, Joey. But then with closer scrutiny, after the celebratory pictures were taken in the first few hours, we were notified that there was a definite problem that required special attention. Then as quickly as you had been whisked into our arms by God's miracle of birth, you were being taken away to Children's Hospital in Atlanta in an ambulance, Dad gloomily following behind wondering what we were heading into with our newborn child.
       You were not yet four hours old, and I vividly remember the fight you put up when the doctors attempted to draw blood for testing. Joey, you refused to acquiesce; you fought to such an extent that they finally removed you to another room away from my eyesight. I knew the physicians did not want your father to see how rough they had to get with this feisty little bundle of newborn love to take that blood! What a wonderful struggle you put up against those doctors. You were baptized in the hospital at 6 hours old before you went into surgery - Mom and Dad wanted it that way. And I recall how proudly I told Father Mario that morning that I knew you would be all right because of the tremendous strength and stamina you showed in the wake of the assault brought by those doctors trying to take your blood.
       So at eight hours old, poor Joey, you started down the path to one of many, many surgeries you had to endure over the span of too short of a lifetime. At that age you were too young to complain, yet as you got older, and you could have very easily expressed your dissatisfaction about your many surgeries, Joey, you never complained. Ruptured appendix, hernia, open heart surgery, more heart caths and whatever, you never complained a minute. We often wished you would express your feelings, but not you, Joey. You just plodded along, day by day, doing what you had to do.
       Then the present illness, totally unrelated to any previous problems, struck with a vengeance. You had been given a clean bill of health many years before. But this illness began dragging you down, relentlessly. Monthly visits to doctors and clinics became weekly visits that became almost daily visits to find help for your ailing heart. We tried everything: "Doctor de jour" became a common refrain around the house; part in jest, part in truth. But you were stoic, Joey, throughout the whole ordeal. Oh, you complained occasionally - more the protestations of a young teenager wanting independence from his parents. But the constant colds and viral infections took their toll on your will. The nausea and lack of appetite sometimes made your existence miserable. But you seldom complained. At times it seemed as if you just wanted to be left alone and let happen what would happen. Joey, you were never a complainer.
       Before your illness reached the critical stage, I tried to press you to have some of your friends over so we could explain what was going on, hoping they would better understand what you were going through and maybe encourage you with the many alternative medications you were having trouble with. But you did not want to bother them with your worries. In fact, when you were very ill near the end, more ill than we realized, I suggested again having your friends come over and let them know how you were doing. However, Joey, you simply said, "Why make them go through what I have to go through? It wouldn't be fair to them." Too polite to burden your friends.
       Poor, Dear Joey. You never would express how you truly felt, almost as if you were calm in the wisdom of the reality of what was happening to you; you accepted your fate and allowed God's will to happen. You just seemed so easy and at peace with your condition. Always stoic, right to the end. It has been especially difficult these past several months as you became sicker and Mommy and I had to spend ever more time with you, knowing that you were becoming more ill and that you might not be with us much longer. We apologize with all sincerity to Katie, Tommy and Robbie. Please know that we love you guys dearly and that we were only doing what we thought was best for everyone - if we could find some way to help your dear brother Joey.
       My absence from home these past three months has been difficult for all of us. Tutoring Katie over the phone in chemistry (her grades proudly improved!), conversations as often as I could when I would find you guys, Tommy and Robbie, at home with your very busy schedules; hopefully you knew and understood that Mommy and I felt this was the best for all of us. Joey absolutely needed me the most and we all wanted him to return healthy. That was our hope, our prayer and our goal. But Joey's passing in no way diminishes the love we have for dear Katie, Tommy or Robbie. We always wanted four children, and in our hearts we always will have four children - just one had to be called back by God too darn early!
       Joey, we'll all miss the stories you had to tell about the shenanigans you and your friends would pull in the cafeteria during lunch at school; or trying to harass one of your classroom teachers in a subtle way. An idle young mind can certainly be a mischievous one. And Joey, you enjoyed using yours to add to the daily mayhem of the classroom!
       We'll miss the way you loved to recite, usually verbatim, a funny punch line from one of the many Chevy Chase or Monty Python movies, your favorites. Your fascination with "Dirty Work" and "CaddyShack" was oh so typical of a fourteen-year-old.
       Joey, you were always a cerebral kid. At a very young age, probably around four, you could be seen staring out the window of a traveling car - not looking at scenery, but sort of gazing at the sky. When asked what you were doing, you would respond in one word, "Thinking", in a voice that came from the body of a four-year-old but the mind of someone much older and almost prophetic. When questioned further, you would talk about your theory on the extinction of the dinosaurs or the origin of the universe - you were never at a loss for why things happened.
       Joey, you had a wonderful, analytical mind - always "thinking". It is no wonder that God called you back at such a young age. It would seem even God likes to have "thinkers" around when they may be needed.
       But Joey was just like any other kid growing up in today's world. I recall with fondness and humor the time we drove to Key Largo, Florida, when he was in fourth grade. We left our home in Suffield early to get a jump on the day. It was 6 am and the kids were hungry, so we stopped in Newington at McDonald's for breakfast. There is a Dunkin Donuts next door, so while the kids were eating, Mom walked over to get doughnuts.
       Egg McMuffin in one hand, doughnut in the other, Joey had a grin on his face from ear to ear. With eyes the size of saucers, and only 30 minutes from home, Joey put things into perspective when he said, "Now this is what I call a vacation!"
       Oh, Dear Joey, you will always be in our hearts and in our minds. And one day, Joey, we will get to meet in the hereafter - the land many times visited by the late night talk radio guests on the Art Bell Show. God had a plan for you, and now he has chosen a special place for you.
       Please understand and appreciate the "Art Bell" joke. At 14 years old Joey was a true skeptic and thinker, and always felt, in his young mind, that the existence of God was not possible - probably more in protestation to his parents, typical teenage fodder to prematurely age us. So in lighter times around home when the discussion of God with Mom or Dad was in a humorous vein, we referred to the many supernatural occurrences that were always discussed on the overnight Art Bell Radio Talk Show as being a type of "religion". Believe me, you have to be familiar with Art Bell and late night radio to appreciate and understand the context of this reference. We often heard Art Bell on our many cross country driving excursions, and the whole family would marvel at the strange and supposedly true stories.
       Well, Katie, Tommy, Robbie and Mommy, now it is the five of us. It will be tough for a while, never the same without dear Joey. But hopefully we can pick up the pieces of our lives, hang together, and carry-on. No, it will never be the same without Joey at the dinner table, in the family room watching a movie, or jockeying for position on the computer - no more hoop on the driveway or homerun derby in the yard, Joey there adding his prowess at home plate or on the foul line. But I know somehow, some way, eventually one day we will be able to rally with the rest of the family - Mum and Boompa, Susan and Tim, Dennis and Ann, Davie and Ann, Ann and Ronnie, David and Kristie and all the nieces, nephews, uncles and aunts and the loving support of our friends and neighbors, to at least get to some semblance of normalcy - however bleak or discouraging that may seem right now.
       God gave us the blessing of living in such a wonderful community; we will never be able to put back into it what has been given to us so lovingly and caringly at this most difficult time. There is truly a sense of pride and belonging here. We are genuinely fortunate. But these are difficult times. I am reminded today of the story about the man who was going through a particularly difficult period in his life. There was much turmoil and anguish, sadness and bitterness from many seemingly unfair and difficult events that he had to endure. Deaths of loved ones, unemployment, and homelessness were but a few of his problems. The man felt as if he were crossing a hot, dry desert with little food or water; it was all he could do to survive - any day could be his last. After an excruciating period of pain and suffering, never once giving up, the man's life started to turn around. In fact, one day when he was finally able to walk upright, he glanced to his side and noticed a man walking beside him.
       It was Jesus.
       The man became indignant and angrily asked Jesus why he had just joined his journey after the difficulties were now past. The man wanted to know where Jesus had been when he needed Him most.
       Jesus replied that he had been with him the whole time. The man glanced behind them and observed that until just recently there was only one set of footprints in the sand. The man demanded to know how this was so if Jesus had been there the whole time.
       Jesus replied that he had been carrying the man.
       As we start out on our difficult journey today, I look behind us and see but one set of footprints in the sand. Five lonely people on a very long, slow, sad journey, leaving but one set of prints in our path. At this point in time it seems as if there will never be six, with Jesus once again at our side, not having to carry us.
       But hopefully with His guidance and strength through this difficult, dark time in our lives, Jesus will sustain us. We can be assured of and look forward to the glorious day when we all meet up with Joey again in God's grand scheme of life. And with Jesus at our side, once again there will happily be seven sets of footprints in the sand!
       There will be those who may have lost faith in God because of all the prayers that have been said for Joey yet seemingly in vain. And the unfairness of why it had to be Joey - he had been sick as a child but was now over the early childhood problems. One can easily say it is not fair, why does it have to be Joey?
       But I do truly believe that Joey is in that "Field of Dreams" right now enjoying what he loves best - baseball!! So we all have to accept the reality of life that is God's will and pray that he is now at peace with his just reward. And the seeming unfairness of his death may be justified by the way his illness has brought the entire community closer together through God's prayer, especially those who may not have ever considered prayer or have not prayed in a very long time.
       Perhaps the continuing theme from another one of Joey's favorite movies, "Blues Brothers 2000", sums it up best, and will surely bring a smile to Joey's face, "The Lord works in mysterious ways!" We all love you, Joey, and will miss you dearly until we have the wonderful opportunity of catching up with you on the other side in all of God's Glory.
       God Bless Dear Joey.
       With all my Love,

The Suffield Observer - Joey's Town Newspaper

The following article appeared in The Suffield Observer, a monthly newspaper in the town where Joey grew up.

Joey's Hometown Newspaper

The Hartford Courant - Joey Remembered

The following item appeared on the Editorial Page of The Hartford Courant.

Editorial About Joey in Hartford Courant

Official Little League Game Scoring Book
Joey's Last Game

This is the scoring page for Joey's last game of organized baseball, Little League 1999, First Church versus DiLorenzo's. Joey became ill that fall, and was unable to play again. His performance at the plate is high-lighted in yellow, showing that his last two official at-bats are home runs, the last being a Grand Slam. The last at-bat showing a single was unofficial after the game had been called.

Joey's Last Little League Game

The Joey Parise Memorial Scholarship
Suffield High School
Suffield, Connecticut

Joey Parise would have been a member of the Class of 2004 at Suffield High School, but passed away in his freshman year at 14 years of age while waiting for a heart/lung transplant which never became available. Family, friends, and classmates remember Joey as fun loving and playful, always with a smile, with an outstanding intellect for his age, and a promising, determined athlete. In Joey’s honor, spirit, and sense of determination, the scholarship is awarded each year to one male and one female athlete in the senior class. Criteria for selection: 1. Scholarship; 2. Athleticism; 3. Pledge to participate in one intercollegiate sport season (not club sport); and, 4. Three recommendations from the faculty committee. Joey wanted to be the quintessential Student-Athlete that all colleges and universities strive to matriculate that would represent their schools in intercollegiate competition. Unfortunately, Joey's dream never became a reality. Therefore this scholarship has been established so that others may realize their dreams.

Scholarship Forms May Be Obtained From Suffield High School Guidance

Recipients of the Joey Parise Scholarship
The followoing Suffield High School Students have been Recipients of the
Joey Scholarship
Since its Inception in 2004 when Joey Would have Graduated

2004 Scholarship Winners

Student Scholar Brian Dunkin
Student Scholar Sonia Hill

2005 Scholarship Winner

Student Scholar
Whitney Tagliavini
Track and Field

2006 Scholarship Winners

Student Scholar
Timothy Dupuis
Assumption Coll.
Student Scholar
Danielle Loughrey
American Univ.

2007 Scholarship Winner

Student Scholar
Tyler DiPrato
Keene State

2008 Scholarship Winners

Student Scholar
Chris Drake
Keene State
Student Scholar
J. Thresher
Franklin Pierce

2009 Scholarship Winners

Student Scholar
Michael Cristina
Student Scholar
Holly Chamberlain

2010 Scholarship Winners

Student Scholar
Angela Moskwa
Student Scholar
Matthew Shute
Wagner Coll.

2011 Scholarship Winner

Student Scholar
Sarah Wilson
Stonehill College
Cross country & Track

Thank you    Grazie    Dziekuje    Obrigado    Gracias

Many people and organizations have contributed to the Joey Parise Scholarship over the years helping these students in a small way to achieve their dream of furthering their education while having the opportunity of competing at a higher level in athletics. Thank you so very much for the kindness and thoughtfulness to all who have contributed in the past. Especially with direct family financial support which has also been wonderful, our goal is to continue the scholarship in perpetuity to help many more students in honor of Joey.

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Joey the Baseball Fanatic

Like most boys in the twelve- to fourteen-year-old range, Joey was crazy about baseball. So naturally, whenever he had the opportunity, he would play, write, or talk baseball. At the end of eighth grade, Joey had an English assignment to write a newspaper article about an historic figure and event, and report the event as a reporter of the day would have. Joey chose Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech to baseball and his fans. Gehrig's illness and pending death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (which later became known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease") robbed baseball of one of its most zealous players at too early an age. We did not know how prophetic this would be.

The Annual Joey Parise Little League Tournament
Sponsored by Suffield Little League
Suffield, Connecticut

The Joey Parise Tournament will be Saturday, June 4, 2011.

The Annual Home Run Derby for Joey Parise Scholarship
Sponsored by Century 21 Alaimo & Corrado
Suffield, Connecticut

The Joey Parise Home Run Derby will be Saturday, June 4, 2011.

A Message About Joey

This is a note about Joey from his CCD instructor Mrs. Kathy Matchett, whom Joey had as a teacher for three or four years. She also had these photographs from Joey's third grade class as noted. But maybe an editorial word about the pictures.
Joey (the consummate Yankee fan) in the Red Sox T-shirt. He was devastated when his Little League Farm team was named the Red Sox. Joey took solace in the fact that there was no team named the Yankees (no bias here on the part of our Little League officials, I'm sure!). But Joey was a true team player, so he proudly displayed his team colors whenever he could. The picture was taken in the Spring on field day at school, hence the face paint. Joey was always a serious competitor, as witnessed by the look of concentration on his face.
Joey in the Wizard of Oz play. Notice that Joey is singing in the picture. Joey was always very attentive to what he was doing, and singing as part of the play was no exception. He may not have relished the thought of getting up in front of all those people and singing (even as part of a group), but he certainly was dedicated enough to do his part for the play.
Joey with the Mohawk haircut. Joey was ALL boy. He considered himself to be a toughy, and thought the haircut would add to his image. So he begged for months to have the Mohawk. We finally agreed that he could have it for Halloween to match his costume. He had it cut Thursday evening, went to school on Friday, kept it through the weekend (Halloween was on a Monday that year, I believe), went to church with it, school again on Monday, then cut it Monday night after Trick or Treating before going back to school on Tuesday. Joey couldn't have been happier - he was elated. When he got onto the school bus Friday morning with the Mohawk haircut, he had such a glow about him and a smile a mile wide that he couldn't wipe off for anything. We were surprised to see the picture with the "tough look" shown here. But he obviously over-exaggerated, knowing the camera was on him.

Message from Joey's CCD teacher
Message from Joey's CCD teacher


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