Sachem North High School holds vigil for beloved coach who lost battle to cancer

Posted: Updated:

A Sachem teacher and coach was remembered at a vigil held Tuesday night, a day after Matt "Dezy" DiStefano lost his battle with kidney cancer.

The stands at the Sachem North High School football field were loaded with people who gathered to honor 42-year-old DiStefano.

DiStefano was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer in February 2018.

But he stayed positive along the way and started the Dezy Strong Foundation to help others battling the disease.

"Matt, great guy, do anything for anybody. Personally, this last year really talking to him, seeing what he went through, how he handled it, really changed my life for the better," said Mark Wojciechowski of Sachem.

"He was my high school volleyball coach, just an absolute inspiration growing up and to see his fight over the last year just couldn't speak more about the character that he's shown, the fight that he's shown," said Tom Kelly.

The remembrance celebration for DiStefano kicked off at 4:45 p.m., which was the time doctors told him that he had cancer. Since that time, friends and loved ones say he always stayed strong.

"At his lowest times, he lifted himself up and he lifted his community, his friends and his family, to not cry for him, to be positive and keep going because we get to," said Tara Erb.

In a recent interview with News 12 Long Island, DiStefano said he wanted to get the message across that one does not have to do things in life, but to get them done.

"I tell myself every day, I woke up, it’s another day I get to kiss my wife hello, I get to see my kids, I get to enjoy this life, and hopefully have an impact on someone," DiStefano said.

Visitation services for DiStefano will be on Wednesday and Thursday in Lake Ronkonkoma.

His funeral will be on Friday in Holbrook.

 

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."