Joey was born the first son to parents Joe and Kathy O’Donnell on May 1, 1974 with a congenital lung disease known as cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis causes secretions in the lungs which make breathing difficult and attract infection. Doctors did not expect Joey to live long, but he endured and fought for the next twelve years.
During that time, Joey touched the lives of many people. Despite his personal illness, he maintained a positive outlook that was itself infectious. Although he struggled for breath, he played baseball and attended school, where it was not uncommon for friends to give him piggy-back rides from the bus up the steps.
While Joey did not live long enough to raise a family or to pursue a career, his attitude inspired others to greatness. At his passing, his friends felt they had to do something, so they raised money, established a scholarship, and built a park in his name. His parents have been the driving force in organizing funding for medical research which has brought improvements to the lives of many afflicted by the same disease.
Joey’s is a life worth remembering. His is a message for our children who play at the park, that the challenges of life need not limit us, for we can bring happiness and friendship to others. This is the spirit of community embodied in Joey’s Park.