Get your hankies handy, folks. On Sunday, a dying teen's last wish to marry his high school sweetheart will come true in Florida's Tampa Bay area, and it's all thanks to the surrounding community. On top of a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $3,000, most hallmarks of a wedding ceremony — the wedding dress and tuxedo, rings, photographer, and more — were donated to the young couple. If you're not crying already, the details will take care of that in a few moments.
ABC News reports that Dustin Snyder, now 19 years old, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer on the day before his 18th birthday. Synovial sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer that tends to occur in young adults, had taken hold in his chest. Although he was pronounced cancer-free after months of chemotherapy and surgery to remove the affected lung, he returned to the hospital three weeks ago complaining of weight loss and abdominal pain. Medical scans showed that the cancer had returned, this time in his stomach and pelvis. According to USA Today, no treatment is available, and he is now in hospice care with a pain pump connected to his heart.
But that doesn't mean he isn't living. Among the chaos, Snyder and his girlfriend of two years, Sierra Siverio, decided they wanted to get married before he passes. On Tuesday, Snyder's older sister created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the wedding on Jan. 28. On the fundraising page, she wrote:
"He really wants to marry the woman that has stuck by his side through all the sleepless night[s] and [is] now dealing with knowing he will pass any time soon. Dustin always said "She is a Keeper". [sic] Please... help Dustin enjoy the rest of his life with his soulmate."
According to USA Today, Snyder and Siverio met and began dating in sixth grade. They eventually broke up, as preteen couples often do, and drifted apart. They reconnected as high school seniors when Siverio walked into the Steak and Shake where Snyder worked. The rest was history, albeit the kind of history that reads like a Nicholas Sparks novel.
For her part, Siverio prefers to keep her mind on the present. "I'm just really numb," she told WPTV, referring to Snyder's illness. "I'm not trying to think about it." Snyder told the news station that she "means the world" to him.
Since Snyder's sister set up the fundraising page for their wedding, it has raised more than $11,000 of its $20,000 goal. (In an update posted on Thursday, she revealed that the goal for the wedding has been met, but any extra money will go to the cost of Snyder's passing.) Several people working the event industry volunteered their services, and even the venue, a community market known as the Big Red Barn, will be provided at no cost. A local hospice care center will donate flowers and bridesmaid dresses.
Thanks to the efforts of Snyder's family and the community, the couple will marry this Sunday — less than a week after the GoFundMe page was set up and about a month after his trip to the hospital. The teen's mother told USA Today that she was blown away by the number of people, many of them complete strangers, who turned out to help make Snyder's dream come true. In a Facebook post announcing the wedding, she offered a "a HUGE Thank You to everyone that is helping make this happen."
I told you tissues would be necessary. To help the family reach its fundraising goal, you can head over to the wedding's GoFundMe page. Now go give someone a hug.