Dustin Snyder, the terminally ill teen who fulfilled his dying wish of marrying his high school sweetheart in January, died on Friday after a battle with a rare form of cancer
Dustin Snyder, the terminally ill teen who fulfilled his dying wish of marrying his high school sweetheart in January, has died after a battle with a rare form of cancer.
The 19-year-old Valrico, Florida native “got his wings” on Friday according to his big sister Brittany Hails.
“I love you Dustin Wade Snyder,” Hails wrote on Facebook, attached to a photo of her and Snyder. “No more suffering, god got you now.”
Snyder was given the devastating news of his terminal cancer at the beginning of January. Given just weeks to live, he told his mother Cassandra Fondahn that he wanted to tie the knot with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Sierra Siverio.
Five days later, his final wish came true after their entire community came forward to help make it happen.
“It started off with a Facebook post where Dustin’s sister asked if anyone had a tux and wedding dress,” family friend Nicole Jordan Roberts told PEOPLE at the time. “They were going to do it in their backyard and we were all going to bring food.”
Once the news spread, people started to come forward offering to donate everything from the wedding dress, venue, food, music and flower arrangements. “It was amazing and just so beautiful,” said Roberts, “but obviously very emotional.”
Brittany Hails, a guest in attendance at the impromptu ceremony, posted a photo on Facebook of the couple exchanging their vows.
The couple’s love story dated back to middle school, when they first met. But like most young romances, it fizzled out.
“They got back together two years ago before his diagnosis,” said Roberts. “Dustin knew that she was the one for him.”
The couple danced their first dance as husband and wife to Ed Sheehan’s hit “Perfect” at The Big Red Barn Venue in Oak Hill, Florida, as their closest friends and family looked on.
“This day was about being happy,” Roberts said. “I saw Sierra crying when he danced with his mom and she was crying with a smile across her face. It was hard thinking that this is the last dance she’ll have with her son.”
On June 28, 2016, just one day before his 18th birthday, Snyder was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare cancer. Doctors found a mass in his left lung and removed it, according to Roberts. After chemotherapy, Snyder was told the cancer was gone and the entire family celebrated. But just two months later, it came back. After more treatment, he was deemed in remission.
Then in December, Synder began to experience severe abdominal pain and went back to the hospital. The cancer had returned and there were now tumors in his stomach and around his pelvis.
“They told him he had just a few weeks and that there was nothing they could do,” said Roberts. “His mom told me she wanted to do as much as she could with him in the little time he had. She wants him to experience as much as he can.”
His sister started a GoFundMe page for their wedding, raising almost $40,000.
“He really wants to marry the woman that has stuck by his side through all the sleepless night and is now dealing with knowing he will pass any time soon,” she wrote on the page.
When Snyder left the hospital, he was put in hospice care. Despite his debilitating pain, he found the strength to stand up for his wedding ceremony.
“He was so strong,” said Roberts. “We wanted to make this the best day for the two of them — and it really was.”