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Terminally ill Valrico man dies a month after marrying junior high sweetheart

VALRICO — During his final few days, 19-year-old Dustin Snyder moved to a hospice house, surrounded himself with belongings from home, swam in a pool and visited the beach in Ruskin.

Wherever he went, the terminally ill Valrico man had family beside him — including the junior high sweetheart he married last month knowing they'd have little time together.

Snyder died at 10 a.m. Friday, relatives said.

His wife, 21-year-old Sierra Siverio, had her last conversation with him Wednesday. He couldn't really talk, Siverio said, so she asked him to blink if he understood her.

"I said I love him," she said, "and if he's ready to let go he needs to go. I'm here and it'd be okay."

He blinked.

Their marriage drew widespread attention, in part because of a Facebook post by his sister noting he was dying and seeking donations for a wedding ceremony.

Related coverage: Despite terminal cancer, couple has a wedding to plan>

The post brought them a diamond ring, a new tuxedo, a wedding dress, dresses for the bridal party and a wedding space at the Big Red Barn in Plant City.

On Thursday, when sister Brittany Hails visited Snyder, "he was in and out," she said. Her last words to him were, "I love you."

Snyder and Siverio got serious in 2015 after reconnecting at a Steak n' Shake in Valrico when Siverio applied for a position there. They had lost touch for several years after Snyder's family relocated to Lithia following junior high.

Snyder was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in June 2016 after going to the hospital for chest pains. The cancer, which attacks soft tissue, is rare, largely found in young adults and teenagers.

After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, it went into remission. But it came back. Doctors found cancer on his bladder just weeks later. When it spread to his stomach and pelvis, the cancer became inoperable.

Siverio stayed with Snyder throughout the process.

"After her being there with me through this cancer, always supporting me and loving me, that's when I knew she was the one," Snyder told the Tampa Bay Times in January. "I wanted to give her something back before my time was up."

That something was marriage. A few days after talking about tying the knot with her, he got on one knee in a Chili's Grill & Bar.

A GoFundMe page Snyder's sister started brought in $42,600 as of Feb. 1, which Hails said would go toward the wedding and the family's other expenses, including final arrangements for Snyder.

"My baby brother got his wings today," Hails wrote on her Facebook page Friday. "I love you Dustin Wade Snyder. No more suffering, (God's) got you now."

Contact this reporter at or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.