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

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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.


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