Michael John Distefano, Fairway, Ks. entered eternal peace on Dec. 11, 2020. He was born to Barbara J. & Anthony V. Distefano, on April 7, 1959 in KC, MO, both preceding him in death. His youngest brother, Dante Paul, also preceded him in death in 1979.
Mike achieved many milestones throughout his life, attending college, marriage, getting his real-estate license, having 2 children, Katie and Kenneth, now successful adults. Michael was also an avid enthusiast of Kansas City sport teams as well as motorsports. He loved racing motorcycles and muscle cars. He lived a traditional life style before his life was forever changed in Sept 2006 when he was in a motorcycle accident. He sustained a traumatic brain injury and spent months in ICU’s. Mike was to acute too survive a facility and was welcomed in his sister and brother-in-law’s home, Mark & Vicki Perbeck. Mike started the long road to recovery with Mark, whom he dearly loved and Vicki being his primary care givers.
After his accident, Mike’s focus was two-fold. First, he fought every day to recover his physical and cognitive abilities. Second, serving as activist for the disabled against the abuses of KANCARE. Mike participated in political rallies, industrial films and the Kansas City Star expose to raise awareness of the struggles, Kansan’s endure under KANCARE. Mike’s courage defined his brand of heroism. Mike fought fearlessly for his life ever day. He fought through uncaring medical staff, both at hospitals and home care agencies. Mike was treated inhumanly and undeserving to live. Due to Mike’s warrior spirit he survived – others’ judgements, negligent care and 9 years of KANCARE. Mike’s life was endangered every day by untrained KANCARE employees who routinely made life threatening decisions for him. KANCARE profit line precluded Mike from receiving life saving supplies equipment and services. Mike’s health compromised, but when asked every night if he wanted to fight another day for recovery, he repeatedly moved his foot for yes.
Over the years Mike has been grateful for the part-time staff who treated him respect and kindness. His nurses, Heather, Becky and Daria truly cared for Mike. They made sure he was healthy every week. They also finagled and furnished supplies refused by KANCARE. Nurses Joann and Faith gave Mike competent and loving care as well. Dr. Gary Berger, Mike’s first PCP laid the groundwork and meticulous plans for his recovery. We followed those same plans until he passed. When Dr. Berger died, his good friend, Dr. Dorzab, inherited Mike as a patient. Mike lived a healthy life for his compromised condition due to Dr. Dorzab’s impeccable care. Dr. Dorzab was there when Mike could not be revived. Thanks fall short for her invaluable care. Mike came home on February 7, 2007. Mohamed PT’d Mike for the first time on February 8, 2007 and Mohamed continued therapy as Mike’s services were terminated. Meredith and Roxanne were vigorous pit-bull advocates through their case management company Their knowledge of an intentionally fallible system was invaluable and saved Mike’s life many times. Many thanks to Jalie from ADRC who advocated for Mike for many years.
Special thanks to past care givers, Alfred, Patsy and Eva, his niece and nephew, Jessica and Michael Perbeck who started caring for him for when they were 16 years old. These dedicated professionals had personal relationships with Mike which were vital to his recovery. Mike routinely had perfect vitals. When he didn’t, he easily overcame his illnesses. Mike indicated he wanted to fight another day during the 4 days his vitals were compromised. Dr. Dorzab checked the vital logs & other indicators & believed he had a pulmonary embolism. Mike had made progressive strides in his cognition. But his body was too tired to continue.
Mike’s personal relationship with health care providers, visiting friends & family, assisted in his progress. Mark said every time he left, he’d stop by Mike’s room & say “back in a minute bro,” & Mike would direct his eyes toward him, raising his brows & smile. Everyone close to Mike can relay their own special moments with him.
Mike enjoyed community support. Former Fairway Mayor, Jerry Wiley, Senator Barbara Bollier, advocated for Mike often. The Fairway police checked in on him too.
The Johnson County Fire Department arrived within 2 minutes of calling 911. The EmTs , Fairway & Westwood police arrived 2 minutes after that. They worked tirelessly to revive Mike. One said they thought Mike had recovered because they had not been to his home since 2013. The Fire Captain said in the 30 years with the Dept., he never knew of the family doctor come to the home upon the death of a patient. During this pandemic they risked their lives to save Mike’s. Their names are a blur. But they are Heroes too.
Pall bearers for Michael will be Mark, Jessica and Michael Perbeck, JoAnn Armato-Lucia, Jim Favrow and Mohamed Kohia.
Burial will follow services at Mt. Washington Cemetery, Independence, MO.
To send flowers to Michael's family, please visit our floral store.