FAIRFIELD, CT — Charlie Capalbo, the former Fairfield hockey player who battled four rounds of cancer for five years, has died at age 23, his family said.
Capalbo died at 3 p.m. Sunday — exactly one month before his 24th birthday, his aunt, Rebecca Jarit, said in a Facebook post.
“The depth of emotions we all feel are impossible to describe. We will be forever grateful to the thousands of people that have made this entire journey special, despite each painful setback,” Jarit said, mentioning Charlie’s family, friends, neighbors, medical staff and caretakers.
Capalbo was diagnosed in 2017 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoblastic lymphoma T-cell Stage 3, soon after completing his senior season as a goalie for the Fairfield co-op hockey team.
With a softball-sized tumor in his chest, the then-18-year-old underwent 36 months of chemotherapy. He began to regain his health and enrolled at Fairfield University in 2018. Just four weeks into the school year, doctors found new cancer cells in Capalbo’s spinal fluid, and he was admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital.
In 2019, Capalbo received a bone marrow transplant from his younger brother, William Capalbo, and Charlie was able to return to Fairfield University in January 2020. But the cancer was back about a year later.
Charlie was in remission during the 2021 holiday season and was able to return to Fairfield, according to his aunt and uncle, Toni Capalbo and Carlos Collazo. Then, a follow-up appointment revealed the need for a fourth round of chemo.
In February, the hockey community raised over $18,000 for Charlie during a regular-season hockey game between Fairfield and Greenwich dubbed “Capalbo Strong Night.”
In her Facebook post, which was also shared on a GoFundMe page, Jarit thanked everyone who supported her family throughout her nephew’s fight.
“We will continue to honor Charlie in everything we do,” Jarit said. “We will stay grateful and hopeful and will recover from this loss the way that Charlie wanted us to.”
Since it was created in 2017, a GoFundMe for Capalbo’s family has raised over $515,000. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/f/tc8mac-charlie-capalbo-be-strong.
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