Joey at 12 years old
Ronald Joseph "Joey" Parise, Jr.
1986 - 2001
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 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.
STORIES ABOUT JOEY
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.
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 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.
A FAREWELL TO DEAR JOEY
March 4, 2001
Dad's good-bye note to Joey
To Dear Joey, Forever 14:
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.
The Hartford Courant - Joey Remembered
The following item appeared on the Editorial Page of The Hartford Courant.
Official Little League Game Scoring Book
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.
The Joey Parise Memorial Scholarship
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
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
The Annual Home Run Derby for Joey Parise Scholarship
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
MORE TO COME.
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