Dyker Heights boy who faced rare disease dies

August 31, 2016 Meaghan McGoldrick
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Charlotte Eriksson once said, “Make someone feel something and you will never be forgotten.”

Local resident Sara Steinweiss believes Eriksson was referring to someone like Giuseppe “Joseph” Parrelli, the Dyker Heights boy who spent most of his life battling a bevy of health issues, and who, on Sunday, August 28, lost his fight at just 16 years old.

“The legacy this young man is leaving behind is tremendous,” said Steinweiss, who, after first meeting Parrelli while hosting a workshop at Kingsborough Early College Secondary School, knew she had to do what she could to give back to him and his family. “What Joseph Parrelli did for his family, friends, community and the world in his 16 years of life is more than most people can hope to accomplish in a lifetime.”

Parrelli had Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a rare genetic connective disorder that affects one out of 20,000 children born in the United States. In 2015, Parrelli was diagnosed with cancer from the disorder. The cancer affected his foot, which had to be amputated in December, 2015.

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Inspired by Parrelli, Steinweiss, on June 30, hosted members of the Dyker Heights community at Indigo Murphy’s bar for the Giuseppe Parrelli Hope for a Cure fundraiser, which brought in over $10,000 for the Dyker Heights family – and that was only the start to a summer of giving back.

From there, other Brooklynites and their communities got involved.

On July 23, the Hallowed Sons, Caged, Domestic Disorder Motor Cycle and Automobile Clubs gathered to “ride for Joey” and raise over $2,000 for the family at an event appropriately dubbed the “Find a Cure Fundraiser: We Ride for Joey,” held at the Ben Machree Boat Club in Gravesend.

“We just wanted to do something nice for him,” said Shawn Kalloff of the Hallowed Sons, who was inspired by the young boy’s strength after meeting him and his family at Steinweiss’s June fundraiser. “We just met the boy, but he’s a strong fighter and humbled us with the challenges he faces every day.”

The inspiration was contagious.

On Wednesday, August 3, local Congressmember Dan Donovan presented Parrelli and his family with an American flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capital to honor him and his fight.

“It’s just beautiful to see that my son is not alone in this fight,” Parrelli’s mother, Janine, told this paper earlier this summer.

But, for those who got to know Parrelli, the pleasure was all theirs.

“I’m honored to have been a part of his journey and astounded at the amount of love, bonds and friendships formed because of the love Joseph so willingly gave to everyone that crossed his path,” said Steinweiss. “Joseph’s legacy will most definitely live on through his family, friends and the community that surrounded him each and every day.”

Parrelli will be remembered by family, friends and his community on Wednesday, August 31 and Thursday, September 1 at Aievoli Funeral Home (1275 65th Street). A funeral mass will be held for him on Friday, September 2 at 9:45 a.m. at St. Bernadette Church (8201 13th Avenue).

He will be buried at Green-Wood Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to the “Giuseppe M. Parrelli Trust” and mailed to Total Performance (6319 14th Avenue).

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