This May marks the 5th Annual Matt Cariglio Memorial Golf Tournament, an annual PK event honoring the life of our dearly missed friend, Matt.
Matt was a cherished member of the ParsonsKellogg family, always putting a smile on our faces. He was also a dedicated father, a loving husband, and a loyal friend. Though he lost a long battle with cancer in 2012, his spirit lives on in everyone whose life he touched.
Matt and his wife, Kim, lived in North Providence, RI, with their children Ella and Nick; Matt also has an older son, Matt Jr. In 2006, on Nick's 3rd birthday, Matt was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a rare form of cancer in the bone marrow and visceral organs for which there is no cure. After multiple rounds of chemotherapy, he received a stem cell transplant in October 2009 that required a 17 day hospital stay and several months of recovery time - a difficult break for a man who typically went to work after morning radiation treatments.
After the transplant, treatments ceased - a time that should have been spent happily enjoying precious moments with his family. Instead, the family suffered additional medical costs and soon after saw the cancer return. As if that wasn't enough, his wife, Kim, developed a lump on her breast in 2011 which tested positive for Stage 2 Ductal Carcimona Breast Cancer, and she began her chemotherapy treatments alongside Matt. In late 2012, Matt underwent monthly inpatient hospital treatments and ulimately ended up in hospice. His treatments were sadly unsuccessful, and he passed away on November 9, 2012, at the young age of 42. Click here to read the full story.
Matt's final wish to his closest friends was that they look after his children and provide them with a great life - the driving cause behind this annual golf tournament.
Today, the family continues to live in North Providence. Kim has been cancer free for over 5 years. Nick, the youngest, is in the 8th grade at Ricci Middle School, headed to La Salle Academy in the fall, and he plays baseball for the school. He is also on the wrestling team, and loves to golf. Ella, a junior at LaSalle Academy playing on the varsity softball team, is beginning her college search and looking at schools in Florida or Boston for accounting or business programs. Matt Jr. studies computer science at CCRI and will receive an Associate's Degree in May while he pursues a career in Network Security. He enjoys golf, skiing, and shooting, and records his own digital music as well.
If you scroll through Matt's Facebook page, you'll see posts as recent as last month expressing how much they miss him, and quotes like, "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." If that's not testament enough to Matt's influence and strength of character, here's a (very abridged) interview with Matt's family and friends who came out to PK to celebrate Matt's memory.
1. How did you meet Matt?
Mike Dahany (high school friend): I met Matt in high school. We had a couple of classes together and played baseball together. We've been friends ever since.
Jay Albanese (childhood friend): We met in Little League and at St. Ann's basketball; we were probably about 6 years old.
Anthony Antonelli (longtime friend): I met Matt when he was about 15 years old with a bunch of his friends, playing softball.
Alan Conca (childhood friend): I met Matt when we were about 9 years old at the Boy's Club. One day we were playing flag football.... Matt was always a ball buster. He told me to hike the ball, so I went down to hike him the ball and the next thing I knew I felt a swift kick in the you know what, and that’s how I met Matt.
John Centracchio (longtime friend): I met Matt about 30 years ago. I had a party at my house, he showed up at 5 am to start a game of quarters with Jack Daniels.
Stephan Baere (business partner and friend): At the time, I was working for Taylormade-adidas Golf. I met him when he flew out to visit our offices - that was actually my first ever corporate meeting.
Jorge Iglesias (business partner and friend): Bacardi has had a long-standing relationship at ParsonsKellogg, and Matt joined onto the account back in the 2000’s. We worked closely together on the Dewars Golf Program.
Bryan McWilliams (PK employee): I met Matt at PK. I started in 2004, and Matt got hired soon after. He was working in our Operations Department... actually, he WAS our Operations Department.
Evan Gall (PKemployee): Working here for him. I started interning here on January 2, 2007, and I reported to Matt starting that day.
Rick Santos (PK employee): I first met Matt working here. We were partnered with his old company, and on our first interaction, hesaid "Hey buddy!" Here I am thinking who is this guy, calling me buddy? That's just how he was. Eventually he started working with us at PK, and my first real interaction with him was at our Christmas party. He was giving one of the guys here he barely knew a hard time -- it was a great introduction to the fun side of Matt.
2. In 3 words, how would you describe Matt to family, friends, and co-workers?
As Rick put it - "fun, funny, and funnier." Here's some more...
Matt's saying was always "Living the Dream." About this Alan says, "Even when he didn’t have the means to live the dream, he always did what he had to do to get there, and I think that’s exactly what he wanted."
3. In one sentence, how has Matt influenced or challenged your life?
John: Matt was always an inspiration to me. I always admired how much of a family man he was, but also a business person. He wasn't afraid to work. When Matt passed away I was fortunate enough to present the eulogy and I said that on his death bed during chemo and treatments, Matt's work ethic would outdo anyone's in the room. I meant that honestly. His ability to work 5 am to 6 pm whether he was in pain or not was amazing.
Anthony: Matt worked for me for about 15 years and has had a profound effect on my life. This is someone that I respected so much and cared so much about and truly could call him a friend.
Jay: He's a family man. The way he loved his kids and Kim, and even my kids and my wife... he always wanted to cherish the moment and did not take anything for granted.
Alan: I watched Matt be a father before I was a father, and he was always involved and always the coach. You’d see him every at sporting event and he’d love it. I looked at him and said - that’s what I want to do with my kids.
Mike: To have known him for 25 years and to know how funny and positive he was all the time - he could torture you and you’d never question for a second how much he loved you. To see what he went through without an iota of complaint was incredible.
Bryan: I learned a lot from Matt, because unfortunately I saw at an early age someone that had to deal with something so much bigger, that most people our age don’t. He’s given me a lot of perspective, and seeing the way he faced it gives me strength and gives me an example to follow. There was a point when Matt was very sick and worked for me directly, and he could have taken an easy routeand stayed in Operations. He wanted to move into Sales because he was sick, his time was limited, and he wanted to make as much money as possible for his family. For a guy who was battling cancer to then make a challenging career move where he didn't know if he was going to succeed - that was an example of Matt.
Stephan: The fight he put up was so inspiring. I was with Matt when he went into an antisocial time in his life. That kind of resilience and his ability to look at the bigger picture and not dwell on being sick was amazing. It was never a crutch for him, and when it was over he was like, “I'm back!" and it was just game over.
Jorge: He was just so positive. To be honest, I didn't even know he was as sick as he was, he never let it on. He was taking care of everybody else. He never let the negative drag him down.
Rick: No matter what, Matt was always right - he was so clever and so witty. If you said your shirt was orange he'd shoot right back "no, it's black," and he'd be right because that's the way he was.
Evan: I learned everything about working here from Matt, from working in the warehouse to learning how to deal with salespeople, vendors, and customers, and how to take everything with a grain of salt and rise above the problems to be a high performing and great employee.
4. How often do you think about Matt?
Every single person interviewed responded the same way - "No question, every single day." Almost everyone also mentioned ways that Matt was a daily inspiration to be stronger, to always consider that things could be worse, and that there's humor in everything.
5. If Matt were here today, what would be the one thing you would want to do with him?
Alan: Something I didn't get a chance to do with him when he was alive. We had gotten 2 tickets to the World Series in 2009 to see the Yankees play the Phillies. The night before he called me and said he wasn't going to be able to make it. He was doing chemo at the time, and it would have been tough for him to get around, walk a lot, and get on the subway. I went and I took someone else, but it was Game 6, the game they clinched it and won the World Series. I have a picture at my house of me pointing to the field, and I would give anything for him to be in that picture beside me. I was even thinking while the picture was being taken that I wished he were there. It was bittersweet.
Stephan: Get involved in an awkward social situation, like a cousin of a cousin of a cousin’s wedding, or stuck in the airport for with a cancelled flight, somewhere we wouldn’t want to be but we had to be there together. I’d just like to pass the time with him, there was no one better to pass the time with. You'd have more fun than if there were 18 people there.
Rick: You could do anything with Matt and he’d make it fun - golf, beers, sitting at the lunch table eating a Big Mac. Just spending time with him would be enough. Anything you did would be an adventure, and you'd be talking about it the next day.
Bryan: Matt never got a fair crack at this millenial generation - I'd love to watch him mess with one of the guys in our office. He had a unique way of giving people a hard time. He could break you down make you feel so stupid about what you were doing, but when he was done you’d be laughing right there with him. But seriously, I'd love to catch a Yankee game with him.
Anthony: Go out to dinner with him because he loved to eat, and that put him in his element. Just to sit have a few drinks. Something like that.
Jay: Something sports related - throw the ball around. We used to go to his house all the time and play football, catch, baseball, baskeball, anything.
Jorge: We didn't get to play a lot of golf together. I'd probably take him out for a round down here in Miami.
John: Play golf with him, take 4-5 hours to spend quality time with him and just laugh.
Mike: Play a round of golf. The last times I spent with him were playing golf. 5 hours of just him and I hitting the ball, no one else around, joking around.
Evan: I'd love to be able to call him when certain things here happen, or just get back on the golf course and watch him hacking around. He was a terrible golfer but he rolled in every putt - 80 foot putts.
Matt's relationships were precious, and his enthusiasm and passion for life were unmatched - so it makes sense why his favorite saying was "Living the Dream." It's in the spirit of his motto that we continue to remember his life each year at the golf tournament, and that his closest friends honor his memory every day. We hope that you can join us and continue to support his children by registering for the 5th Annual Matt Cariglio Memorial Golf Tournament this May.
Many of these interviews were caught on tape during an afternoon event at the PK offices. Subscribe to our updates to see the video, which will be released in the coming weeks.