Remembering Mike DeStefano for this year’s AIDS Walk in NYC

A note from PJ Landers…(reprinted from his Facebook with his permission)

Hey Everyone,

TeammikedestefanoI wanted to fill you in on the AIDS Walk in NY we did in honor of comic Mike DeStefano.

If you were planning on going to the walk and set your alarm at 630am like most of us, then you woke up to crazy rain and wind. It was one of those lazy rainy Sunday’s you wanted to just lay in bed all day. I was that close to hitting snooze button. I was planning on bringing my two teenage boys, they helped us plan the walk. As I looked at them in their beds I figured it’s going to be raining all day, let them sleep.

When the organizers say rain or shine they really mean it. Thousands of workers and volunteers were working through the night getting things ready. On Saturday I met hundreds of people that had been working for months to make this day happen. It was incredible to see so many different groups of people come together for the AIDS Walk. They say there were about 45,000 people that walked on Sunday raising over 6 million dollars, 20 or so of those people had come to walk in Memory of Mike DeStefano. Others who couldn’t make it donated to the Mike DeStefano Comic Team, the Team raised close to 6k.

Mike was good at bringing people together. As we started to walk we had a moment of remembrance. We stood together in the rain for Mike DeStefano. Some of us recalling the first time we had seen him on stage, comics who had been on shows with him, a musician who met Mike thru the Last comic tour, a girl in recovery that Mike had helped, a women that never met Mike who was inspired to do comedy, friends that have 30 year memories with him, his brother, his girlfriend and a beautiful 12 week old boy. We all greeted each other with love in our hearts, whether we knew the person or just meeting them for the first time, we were there to Celebrate Mike‚Äôs Life and the spirit was upon us. 

As the team started the walk, I stayed behind on a bench talking with Joe DeStefano, Mike's brother. He was recalling how people would always think he was Mike, he looks eerily like Mike, Joe says ‚ÄúAfter Mike was on Last Comic, I was boarding this plane, the ticket guy looks at me‚Ķwow, your that guy from NBC, man you were the funniest, you should have won, you got hosed, I said that‚Äôs not me‚Ķthat‚Äôs my brother Mike, I‚Äôll tell him you said that‚Äù Joe had great pride in telling people who thought he was Mike that ‚Äúno, he‚Äôs my brother, I‚Äôll tell him you said that‚Äù 

Many of you have reached out about not being able to make it or you just heard about it. If you were thinking about Mike on Sunday, if you‚Äôre reading this now thinking of Mike, then You were there with us.  As many of you know Mike believed in ‚Äúsomething‚Äù else out there. As a Buddhist Mike tried to understand what death is. Buddhists believe that it is simply the beginning, A man dies a child is born. One soul to the next. 

His girlfriend, Lois created a wonderful remembrance card…A great picture of Mike looking happy with no cares in the world…the back of the card had some words from the Buddhist book of death.

“Now when the bardo of dying dawns upon me, I will abandon all grasping, yearning and attachment, Enter undistracted into a clear awareness of the teaching, and eject my consciousness into the space of unborn awareness, As I leave this compound body of flesh and blood I will know it to be a transitory illusion“

After reading this, I looked at my buddies newborn son, so snuggly lying on his mom‚Äôs belly, I'm feeling maybe we do go to the next body when we die, if so, some lucky kid is getting a great soul.  

We all have great stories about Mike. I have three memories, I went with Mike to his first Conan, he brought me to Rao‚Äôs for the best meal I ever had and I will always hear him say ‚Äúhey P, I‚Äôm gonna do this new joke‚Äù  Mike said that every time he went on stage. A last funny moment came when his brother Joe was telling us that ‚ÄúI was late cause he saw a cab spin out of control and crash into a wall, I shoulda took a picture cause Mikey did that‚Äù (a call back referring to Mike‚Äôs punching cab drivers in head joke‚Ķ.No cab drivers were hurt or punched in this story) Hope to see you soon Mike, well not too soon…

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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