Inaugural Race for Matt and Grace Golf Tournament was an overwhelming success

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There was a unique and unmatched display of love all over famed and well-groomed Connecticut National Golf Club in Putnam, Connecticut Saturday.

That show of love – which came in many forms prior to and during the inaugural Race for Matt and Grace Golf Tournament – was for a 39-year-old Johnston man named Matt DiIorio, who continues to battle the debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro muscular disorder known as FA (Friedreich’s Ataxia).

The first show of love – and respect – people have for Matt DiIorio and his proud parents Jack and Sallyann came from the sold out playing field of 144 golfers, who raised an extraordinary amount of $16,000 through the tourney that will go to the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA).

“The love and support that we received was just fantastic,” said Sallyann DiIorio, her voice cracking with emotion. “We are blessed to have such wonderful people around us. It was great to see so many friends from the Town of Johnston support our event.”

To which Jack DiIorio added: “The turnout for our inaugural golf tournament was well beyond what we expected. The amount of work that our friends and family exerted was what made the day a success.”

Jack DiIorio, who played in a foursome Saturday but didn’t reveal his score, added: “A big thank you to the staff at Connecticut National that was just super; we could not have worked with a better group.”

One member of the CN staff who worked tirelessly with committee members well before the tourney teed off Saturday is Jim West, who received high praise from the DiIorios, as well as Michael Crawley, Chairman of the Race for Grace.

Crawley, in fact, stood on the putting green that served as a special revenue-raising contest with West and delivered an impressive welcome address.

“Every day FARA takes another step toward moving FA research forward,” said Crawley. “As with most medical research, it is a game of time and money; the more money raised, the less time until a treatment and a cure arrives. Thank you to all of you for your time and contributions today and throughout the year. We are thrilled that our first golf tournament attracted such a great, sellout field.”

Yet another show of love came from Dave Interlini, Derrick Gelsomino, Vin LaFazia, Steve Placella, John Graham and Jack DiIorio, who put together the first-ever golf tourney.

Several others contributed to the day, which was an overwhelming success.

Chef Ralph Bucci, Jen Paolantonio, Danna Gelsomino, Ruth Furia and Sheila Beliveau did everything from cooking sausage on the grill for the sausage and pepper sandwiches to helping to prepare the grilled chicken sandwiches and hot wieners that people enjoyed during the pre-tee off luncheon. Additionally, Harriet Sukaskas, Tara Grabowski and Tara Sukaskas sold tickets for the mega-prize raffle.

Jack and Sallyann DiIorio thanked every golfer for playing during registration, while Joyce Lamoriello and Linda LaFazia helped the check-in process at the registration table.

Marissa Beatini followed by delivered a tear-jerking, emotion-filled singing of the National Anthem to begin the 18-hole event.

Then there were some mighty marvelous moments from the golfers themselves, many of who, before heading out onto the spiffy 18-hole layout, zipped over to Matt DiIorio and offered a high five or tip of the cap as a special show of respect.

And, as Irene Veator and Kyle Devlin would readily concur: “Yet another special show of love for our friend, Matt DiIorio.”

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