Matthew “Dezy” DiStefano, a member of the Sachem Central Teachers Association who passed away in January 2020 from a rare form of kidney cancer, is the winner of NYSUT’s inaugural Humanitarian Award.
A special education teacher and volleyball coach at his alma mater, Sachem North High School, DiStefano is being honored for his inspiring work in creating the DezyStrong Foundation which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help defray the cost of cancer treatments for patients and to make families as comfortable as possible in their time of need.
The impetus for the Humanitarian Award came from a resolution passed by the SCTA, led by President Philip Barbera, which asked NYSUT to consider recognizing members who make significant humanitarian contributions to their communities.
DiStefano’s work galvanized not only the Sachem community, but also attracted the support of professional sports teams such as the New York Islanders, and numerous collegiate and high school athletic programs throughout the country. Recently, the DezyStrong Foundation Infusion Suite was opened at Huntington Hospital on Long Island to help make patients more comfortable while undergoing treatments.