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UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence Receives a $10.5K Gift From a Grateful Family

The First Annual Joe “Nuzzy” Memorial Golf Tournament raised $10,500, which was generously donated to the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence (DCOE) to be used for research and patient care

Date Posted: Friday, November 02, 2018
 Dr. Dale Greiner, Alan Stolarczyk, Joe DiGiorgio, Jonathan Nozzolillo, Blake Aboody, Leah Nozzolillo and Dr. David Harlan 

Joey's best friend Joe DiGiorgio came up with the idea over the summer, and friends and family pulled it together in just three months.  “We couldn’t believe how successful it was for such short planning,” DiGiorgio said.  “Next year we will begin planning much earlier, and it will be even bigger and better.”  They created the Joe “Nuzzy” Nozzolillo Memorial Foundation and plan to make the golf tournament an annual fundraiser at Heritage Country Club in Charlton, MA.  


Joseph Nozzolillo had been treated at UMass since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just after his 10th birthday

He had a great relationship with his care team, however struggled to keep his blood sugars and A1c within range, even with the eventual use of an insulin pump.  Persistent diabetic neuropathy caused consistent pain in his legs and feet.  Joe passed away in November of 2017 of complications from diabetes at the much too young age of 31. 

He was the middle of three children, who run the family business, Joey’s Limousine Service of Worcester, started by their grandfather “Joey” in 1946.  It was Joe’s older brother Jonathan, who found him passed out on the front steps of their home after school in 1996.  He was rushed to the emergency room where his blood sugars were over 900. 

“We wanted the money raised by the golf tournament to stay local and help other people being treated for diabetes at UMass,” said Jonathan.  “We appreciate all they did for our brother.”

Leah, Jonathan & Joey 

Joey played soccer as a child on several teams in Holden, and later indoors at the Greendale YMCA as a teenager.  He graduated from St. Johns High School where he was an outstanding coxswain on the crew team.  He amassed an incredible group of friends along the way.  Joe loved being an uncle to his niece Madison.  Friends and family came together to make their first golf tournament fundraiser a huge success, whether by planning, playing, donating, assisting in advance and/or helping at the event. 

Joey with sister Leah and niece Maddie
Young Nuzzy

Joe’s younger sister Leah recently participated in the JDRF Walk Central Mass fundraiser.  “Getting involved and giving back to help other families, to hopefully prevent what we had to go through,” is her motivation to help in her brother’s memory.

“Our mother (Celeste) was Joey’s primary caregiver because Dad (also named Joe) was always working,” said Jonathan.  “Mom spent countless hours trying to help manage his diabetes.  Staying up late when he couldn't sleep because of high blood sugars, or waking up in the middle of the night with dangerously low blood sugars.  Mom would go to the UMass appointments with Joey as they tried to get his neuropathy under control.“

Touring the Diabetes Center of Excellence Research Laboratories

Jonathan, Leah, Joe DiGiorgio, Blake Aboody and Alan Stolarczyk, who each worked tirelessly to pull together the golf tournament, recently had the opportunity to tour the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence research laboratories.  “I didn’t realize how much diabetes research happens right here in Worcester,” Leah said.  “It was impressive to see the state-of-the-art facility, and to hear about the novel research, unique to UMass Medical School, happening right here in Worcester.”

Michael Brehm, PhD, who also lives with type 1 diabetes (T1D), showed them around the labs and explained some of the research taking place at the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence.  Our scientists have uncovered bold new insights into T1D development, and are working on a unique approach to treat type 2 diabetes (T2D) and its complications.  

“The average person doesn’t get to see how much incredible research is happening in our own backyard, working to put an end to diabetes,” added Jonathan.   

Making a difference in the lives of people with diabetes

The UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence is grateful for the gift, which will be put towards research and patient care.  Our patient-centered approach provides the most up-to-date and proven-to-be-effective treatments.  The goal of the research is a world without diabetes.

More Diabetes Center of Excellence News