Defending champ Feolas look to win one for Matt

Defending champ Feolas look to win one for Matt

The Feola family, from left, Nicholas Feola, Marianna Feola, Anthony Feola, and Stephen Feola. Both Marianna and Anthony Feola suffer from Type 1 diabetes, a debilitating disease that has nothing to do with maintaining a poor diet or not exercising.

NORTH PROVIDENCE - It was New Year's Eve 2007 as the Feola family watched the ball drop from their room at "Hotel Hasbro," as Stephen Feola likes to call Hasbro Children's Hospital. That was the day Steve's youngest of two sons, Anthony, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Though the North Providence Town Council member was familiar with the disease due to his wife Marianna being diagnosed with it seven years earlier, it was his wife who recognized Anthony's symptoms, which can include extreme thirst, frequent urination, irritability, sudden weight loss, drowsiness and/or sleepiness.

"The initial diagnosis can be overwhelming for anyone," says Feola. "Type 1 diabetes is a life-changing event due to the daily demands of keeping blood sugar levels normal."

This Saturday, Aug. 24, at North Providence High School, the Feola family will be participating in SLAMDiabetes Rhode Island Classic Wiffle ball Tournament as defending champions. SLAMDiabetes, in part, seeks to create more awareness of Type 1 diabetes, support children and adults living with the disease, and assist organizations that help them.

Last year the Feolas won the tournament with the help of their "dear friend" Matt Cariglio, who was instrumental with fundraising and overall involvement with the tournament.

"Unfortunately, Matt lost his courageous battle to cancer two months after playing in the tournament," said Feola. "This year my son wanted the name of his team to be changed in honor of Matt to, 'Living the Dream,' a quote Matt would frequently say."

To keep Anthony Feola's blood glucose levels normal on a daily basis, his family helps him maintain a balance of good eating, exercise, and insulin intake. Feola's son needs to know how many grams of carbohydrates are in the food he eats and needs to test his blood glucose levels about six times a day by pricking his finger.

"To put that in perspective, by the time he's 30 years old he will have pricked his fingers nearly 40,000 times," said Feola.

When Anthony was first diagnosed he needed an insulin injection every time he ate, even if it was a snack.

Today he is able to wear an insulin pump, which is attached to him. He gets an injection once every three days and the pump gives him small doses during a 24-hour period.