About Cory

Cory J. Garwacki


Cory was born on January 19, 1987.  He was born with a very rare and life threatening condition known as short gut syndrome.  This meant that Cory was missing the majority of his intestine.  Without this organ it remains difficult to absorb vital nutrients needed to sustain life, to thrive, and to grow.  Cory was not expected to survive more than a few days, however no one ever told Cory that, and so began his miraculous journey.  Cory had his first surgery at only a few hours old, this was just the beginning.  His prognosis of just a few days turned into a few weeks, a few months, a few years, and eventually it became very evident that Cory was not following any of the expected paths associated with a life threatening medical condition.  He was forging his own path.  One that would teach so many people so many things, both medically and personally.  And those of us who were lucky enough to be a part of this journey with him were able to witness a true miracle.

Cory endured over 100 surgeries & procedures including 2 separate organ transplant surgeries, the 2nd of which included 5 organs transplanted into his body at the same time. Cory’s daily routine was complicated, and included several medical interventions throughout his day.  Management of his multiple medications caused harsh side effects to his mind and body.  While Cory struggled with his health issues daily it was rarely evident to others.  His focus was always on the positive moments in his day and he considered the difficulties he had to deal with as just a part of his life.  When things got extremely difficult for Cory he would always say “hey, this is still better than the alternative right," and we all knew what Cory meant by that.  He made a conscious decision each day to live it to the fullest.  Cory’s faith, hope, courage and willingness to believe in miracles continued to fuel his unmatched optimism. Cory's love and appreciation for life kept him ready and willing to face each day not knowing what the day might bring for him.  He lived every second of every day to the fullest of his ability.  Even on October 26, 2014 when this day brought with it the end of Cory’s struggles, it was with dignity, strength, and peace surrounded by family and love, that Cory followed his path into his future.  

Even with all of Cory’s medical issues forcing him to miss school for extended periods of time, he always worked very hard to keep up with his academic responsibilities.  By the time Cory reached high school he had been placed on the transplant list at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. He began to get physically weaker and could no longer attend classes.  Cory worked with a tutor and was home schooled throughout high school.   He worked very hard to keep up with the work that his classmates were doing because he was determined to graduate high school on time and with his peers.  This was very important to Cory.  And of course he made it happen.  Even when on the morning of graduation Cory ended up in the emergency department and they were recommending he have surgery, Cory told them “not today, I’m graduating today, you can do surgery tomorrow”.  Cory arrived for the graduation ceremony with a big smile and we were all so very proud of him.

Cory attended Holyoke Community College and then onto Westfield State University.  At both HCC and WSU Cory worked for the Alumni Association, the campus newspaper & radio station and did peer tutoring.  He volunteered at a soup kitchen and volunteered on campus for various causes.  Cory graduated from WSU with a Bachelors Degree in Communications in May 2014. Our family was so very proud to see Cory walk into the arena carrying the flag representing the Communications department, an honor he was surprised by.  And to hear his name and see him walk across the stage and complete one of the biggest goals he had set for himself, it was amazing.  

When Cory wasn’t involved in campus life or one of his many fundraisers he loved going to Boston Red Sox games (the 2004 Red Sox team even made a personal video full of well wishes and sent it to Cory at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital as he was recovering from his first transplant), he loved going to concerts, and traveling whenever he got the opportunity.