Shelton shoe store raising money for Norwalk DJ awaiting double organ transplants

SHELTON — A local shoe store extended its campaign to help raise money for a beloved Norwalk disc jockey who is awaiting a heart and liver transplant, the store’s co-owner said.

Joseph Gradia, co-owner of Hawley Lane Shoes on Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton, said his store is donating 20 percent of its proceeds from the past week to Jimmy Nuzzo, a Norwalk DJ waiting to receive the new organs in a Boston hospital.

The charity was scheduled to run from Aug. 8 through Aug. 11, but the store’s three owners decided to extend it to Sunday to maximize the proceeds, Gradia said. The total amount raised won’t be known until then, he added.

Performing under the name DJ Jimmy Jams, Nuzzo, 62, is a popular figure around Norwalk, his wife Lisa Nuzzo said.

“He’s very intertwined in the community,” she said. “When people meet him, they gravitate toward him.”

Jimmy Nuzzo has performed at many local events, including at Hawley’s, where he played for free during one of the store’s fundraisers. Gradia said he wanted to return the favor.

“He’s always been giving to the community one way or another,” Gradia said. “It’s our turn to help him.”

Lisa Nuzzo said she was “overwhelmed” by the support and prayers she has received on her husband’s behalf. She said he was recently admitted to a Boston hospital and could have the transplant surgery at any point.

Waiting is the hardest part because it’s “something we have no control over,” she said.

Lisa Nuzzo said Jimmy Nuzzo was born with a congenital heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot, which she described as a “leaky valve.” It affects normal blood flow through the heart, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC estimates that about 1 in every 2,518 babies are born with tetralogy of Fallot in the United States each year.

“Back when my husband was born in 1959, they really didn’t know how to treat it or fix it,” she said. “There’s not too many 62-year-old guys walking around with (this condition) that are still with us.”

Lisa Nuzzo said she and her husband knew getting a new heart was going to be inevitable, but the liver transplant - a side effect of his failing heart - surprised them.

Despite those challenges, Lisa Nuzzo said she knows he will persevere.

“The road to get there … is going to be extremely difficult, and I’m not just talking financially,” she added.

In addition to Hawley’s, other local businesses have held fundraisers to help Nuzzo and raise awareness of his situation. That financial boost has allowed Lisa Nuzzo to accompany her husband to Boston.

“I needed to be here,” she said.

Gradia said that people can help by purchasing an item from the store on Sunday or stop by to make a donation. Hawley’s goal, he said, is to “raise as much cash as we can to help ease some of that pain” for Jimmy Nuzzo and his family.