Saturday 10th July 2021
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How many of your friends would carry you up a flight of stairs or on a plane? When was the last time you were judged not by your looks but by your character?
Matthew J. Di Iorio has been a powerful inspiration and source of hope to those who knew him throughout his life. Although he needed support in almost all areas of life, he had a community of people who loved him unconditionally because he was. In the midst of great suffering and privation, he showed others how to live joyfully. His positive, hands-on attitude did not let compassion become part of his world. Matt gave us all a sense of purpose and connectedness.
Diagnosed at age 13, Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) began to manifest significantly about four years later. Despite the symptoms that tried to hold him back, Matt’s life got more exciting and adventurous over the years. His wanderlust led him to sports tournaments, golf vacations and several times to Las Vegas. Matt especially enjoyed the summer weekends on the water in Warwick and Narragansett.
In 2009, Matt became a tireless advocate for Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) and those who also have FA. Although it changed his life, he never expected to be seen as a patient. He would say confidently, “I have FA, but FA doesn’t have me.” Inspired by others with FA, he decided to raise funds and awareness to find a cure. Together with friends, he helped start the Race for Matt and Grace. Its support community has raised nearly a million dollars to find treatment and cure for the more than 6,000 Americans who have the disease.
Matt found ways to stay in the game and on the dance floor. When he wasn’t the party DJ, he was training baseball or cheering on his favorite team. Through A Wish Come True, he met the entire New York Yankees from 1999 and later, in 2008, with Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and the owners of the New York Giants.
His friends always marveled at Matt’s desire to do everything without regret and without judgment. In high school, peers showed their respect and admiration by crowning him king of prom, Christmas ball, and homecoming.
Matt always wanted to look good and enjoyed fashion. Armani Exchange and INC were his favorites, but his smile and charisma overshadowed his clothes.
Matt lived in Rhode Island his entire life, graduating from Johnston Senior High School and Bryant University. Some of his proudest moments came while he was running the men’s basketball team at both schools. In college, he was a member of the Delta Chi Brotherhood while completing his bachelor’s degree in communications.
At the age of 40, Matt died of complications from FA on July 4, 2021. True to form – he died as he lived – he spent time on vacation with his family in Sun Valley, Idaho. Surrounded and survived by the people who knew him best, he leaves behind his parents, Jack and Sallyann, brother Andrew, sister-in-law Brooke, brother Nicholas and sister-in-law Dana. He died before his grandparents Jack and Anna Di Iorio and Salvatore and Anna DeLuise.
The Di Iorio family appreciate the people who have supported Matt with countless kindnesses and love throughout his life. The family also thanks the doctors who treated and cared for him from the bottom of their hearts.
Funeral Mass will be held on Monday, July 12, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, Four Lafayette Street, Johnston, RI.
A private funeral will follow at St. Ann’s Cemetery in Cranston, RI.
Instead of flowers, donations can be made to FARA in memory of Matt to support the Race for Matt and Grace. (Checks to FARA can be mailed to 533 W. Uwchlan Avenue, Downingtown, PA 19335; see RFMG).
Please share memories and condolences with WoodlawnGattone.com.
To send flowers to Matthew’s family, please visit the flower shop.