Joey was born to parents Joe and Kathy O’Donnell on May 1, 1974 with a congenital lung disease known as Cystic Fibrosis. He was diagnosed with the disease at 6 months, and doctors told his parents that he would not live through the night. Joey not only lived through the night, but went on to fight the disease for the next twelve years. During that time, Joey touched the lives of many people. Despite his illness, he maintained a positive outlook that was itself infectious. He played baseball, served as class president, and rode the backs of his friends up the stairs to class. He was an artist, a comedian, and a ladies' man.
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 through the Joey Fund and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which has brought improvements to the lives of many afflicted by the same disease.