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Popular Long Island HS Teacher/Coach Dies At 42 After Battling Cancer

Matt "Dezy" DiStefano
Matt "Dezy" DiStefano Photo Credit: Instagram

The Sachem community is mourning the loss of Matt "Dezy" DiStefano, a Sachem High School North teacher and popular volleyball coach, who died from kidney cancer.

DiStefano, of Ronkonkoma, died Monday, Jan. 27, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. He was 42.

Known as a great motivational speaker who never gave up, DiStefano was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic kidney cancer in February 2019. 

After learning of the diagnoses, DiStefano created the Dezy Strong Foundation as a way to help cancer patients "have positive mental well-being."

Following its creation, DiStefano, the Sachem North High School assistant boys volleyball coach, motivated thousands of people, even while battling his own disease.

Born Nov. 24, 1977, DiStefano grew up in Holbrook. He went to Sachem High School where he played volleyball and basketball. 

After graduating, DiStefano played volleyball and basketball at the College of Mount St. Vincent until graduating in 2000. 

He is in both the Sachem and Mount St. Vincent Hall of Fames. 

 DiStefano leaves behind his wife of 10 years, Jennifer and three children, Gianna, 9, Giuliana, 6, and Giovanni, 5.

The school district will hold a remembrance event for the beloved teacher on the Sachem North football field at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28. All are invited.

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