He lost his best friend to Freiderich’s Ataxia (FA) a year ago.
Vowing to continue the fight they waged together, Michael Crawley kept plugging away, and helped Matthew DiIorio’s family raise more than $1 million to help find a cure.
On June 8, the Kraft Family, the New England Patriots Foundation and Gillette Stadium recognized Crawley for his fundraising efforts by presenting the Cranston native with a $10,000 donation for the Freiderich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA).
Crawley was one of 26 volunteers recognized during the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards luncheon at Gillette Stadium.
“Fundraising for FARA is among the best things I do,” he said. “I’m a firm believer of the saying, ‘If you’re not making someone else’s life better, you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other people’s lives better.”
FA “is an inherited disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system, resulting in heart disease, scoliosis and more,” according to a press release from the Patriots Foundation.
Crawley has been fundraising for FARA for the past 11 years. For a decade, he and Johnston High School graduate Matthew DiIorio worked side-by-side to combat the illness.
DiIorio had been living with FA — a neuro-muscular, genetic disorder that affects one in roughly 50,000 people in the United States — since he was diagnosed in 1994. The disease is debilitating, progressive and has no cure.
As president of the Race for Matt and Grace and as a member of the finance committee, Crawley played an instrumental role in the organization’s growth.
“On average, Michael spends 10 hours per week volunteering, helping to raise essential funds to support families battling the disease,” according to the Patriots Foundation. “Thanks to Michael’s leadership, the Race for Matt and Grace has surpassed the $1 million mark, leading to a promising breakthrough in research.”
The 2022 Myra Kraft Community MVP winners ranged from 15 to 85 years old and hailed from every New England state, according to the organization.
“The selected nonprofits provide support for many causes, including education, domestic violence prevention, healthcare, homelessness, mentoring and military support,” according to the press release. “Since its inception, the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards program has recognized more than 450 volunteers and donated more than $3 million to support nonprofit organizations across New England.”
“I feel so honored to have had such a special friendship with Matt for most of my life,” Crawley said. “He spread joy, hope, and inspiration to all those around him with his kind heart, extreme thoughtfulness, unwavering bravery and contagious smile. Our mission continues in his memory to slow, stop, reverse, and cure Friedreich’s Ataxia.”
The Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation said they received more than 250 applications this year from nonprofit organizations looking to recognize their outstanding volunteers. Nominations open each spring and the awards are open to all New England nonprofit organizations.
“Of all the community initiatives we support through the Patriots Foundation, this was always Myra’s favorite and I am proud that we continue to honor her legacy of volunteerism by recognizing the amazing work of dozens of volunteers each year,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “She loved meeting all of the honorees and hearing their heartwarming stories of volunteerism. There are so many people doing great things in our communities. It restores all faith in humanity. We enjoyed reviewing this year’s applications and selecting the 26 dedicated individuals that are helping to make the world a better place.”
Gillette, a longtime supporter of the New England Patriots and a cornerstone partner of the Patriots Foundation, served as the presenting sponsor for this year’s program. On hand to congratulate the award winners were Robert Kraft, President of Kraft Family Philanthropies Josh Kraft, Patriots, College and Pro Football Hall of Famer and Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett and John Claughton, VP of Grooming, North America, Procter & Gamble.
“This program has always been my family’s favorite charitable initiative,” said Josh Kraft. “Each year, we read hundreds of heartfelt stories of volunteerism and we are honored to celebrate those who go above and beyond to help others. We were excited to partner with our good friends at Gillette for this year’s program and appreciate their shared commitment to building stronger New England communities.”
More information on the Freiderich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) can be found at www.curefa.org/rfmg (checks to FARA may be mailed to 533 W. Uwchlan Ave., Downingtown, PA 19335; reference RFMG).
For more information on the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards, visit www.patriots.com/community.
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