How many of your friends would carry you up a flight of stairs or onto an airplane? When was the last time you were judged not by your appearance, but by your character?
Throughout his life, Matthew J. Di Iorio was a powerful inspiration and source of hope for those who knew him. Even though he needed support in almost every aspect of life, he had a community of people who loved him unconditionally because of who he was. In the midst of great suffering and hardship, he showed others how to live joyously. His positive, can-do attitude did not allow pity to become part of his world. Matt gave us all a sense of purpose and connection.
Diagnosed at age 13, Friedreich's ataxia (FA) began to manifest itself in a significant way about four years later. Despite the symptoms that tried to slow him down, Matt’s life became more exciting and adventurous as the years continued. His love of travel took him coast to coast for sports tournaments, golf vacations, and to Las Vegas multiple times. Matt especially enjoyed the summer weekends spent on the water in Warwick and Narragansett.
In 2009, Matt became a tireless advocate for the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) and those who also have FA. Although it changed his life, he never expected to be thought of as a patient. He would confidently say, “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. His community of supporters have raised close to a million dollars to find a treatment and cure for the more than 6,000 Americans who suffer from this disease.
Matt found ways to stay in the game and on the dance floor. When he wasn’t the party’s DJ, he coached baseball or cheered on his favorite team. Through A Wish Come True he met the entire 1999 New York Yankees and later, in 2008, hung out 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 the prom, the Christmas ball, and homecoming.
Always wanting to look his best, Matt enjoyed fashion. Armani Exchange and I.N.C. were his favorites, but his smile and charisma overshadowed his attire.
Matt was a lifelong resident of Rhode Island, graduating from Johnston Senior High School and Bryant University. Some of his proudest moments took place while managing the men’s basketball team at both schools. In college, he was a member of the Delta Chi fraternity while completing a bachelor's degree in communications.
At 40 years old Matt passed away on the Fourth of July, 2021 due to complications from FA. True to form - he died as he lived - spending 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 is predeceased by grandparents Jack and Anna Di Iorio and Salvatore and Anna DeLuise.
The Di Iorio Family appreciates the people who supported Matt with countless acts of kindness and love throughout his life. The family also extends their heartfelt gratitude to the medical professionals who treated and cared for him.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held 11:00 AM Monday, July 12, 2021 at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, Four Lafayette Street, Johnston, RI. A private burial will follow at St. Ann’s Cemetery, Cranston, RI. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Matt’s memory to FARA in support of the Race for Matt and Grace, please visit https://curefa.org/rfmg (checks to FARA may be mailed to 533 W. Uwchlan Avenue, Downingtown, PA 19335; please reference RFMG). Please share memories and condolences at WoodlawnGattone.com