June 2017 has been the cruelest month in Teresa Thompson-Sylvester's young life.
On June 16, Thompson-Sylvester lost her husband, John "Sly" Sylvester, who'd battled ALS (aka Lou Gherig's Disease) for years.
The tragic loss should've shifted Tessie's focus from caring for John to providing for their two boys, six-year-old Gus and five-year-old Freddy. Instead, she was forced to worry about herself.
Thompson-Sylvester was diagnosed with an aggressive gland-based cancer just days before her husband's death. By the time it was discovered, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and liver; doctors declared the cancer inoperable.
Thompson-Sylvester started chemotherapy immediately, and the widowed single mother will be unable to work as she seeks treatment. The stark realities of the situation facing Tessie and her sons is laid out in a GoFundMe account launched earlier this week, where founders are hoping to raise up to $500,000.
That lofty goal seems suddenly reachable, given the outpouring of support they've received: As of Thursday morning, friends, acquaintances, and strangers had already donated more than $61,000.
The GoFundMe page fills in the couple's backstory. John played with the Minnesota Thunder, a precursor to the Minnesota Stars (now Minnesota United). After his playing days, he coached youth soccer and worked for Minneapolis Public Schools.
Last fall, Washburn High School in Minneapolis (Sylvester, a high school "star," graduated in 1990, and later coached the girl's soccer team) held the fourth annual "John Sylvester Cup," which "celebrates John and his immeasurable contributions to the Minneapolis soccer community."
Tessie (born Teresa Thompson) attended dental school at the University of Minnesota, and worked first at a free clinic based in St. Paul, and more recently at the West St. Paul office of Family Dentistry. Her staff biography there describes her as "an avid soccer player" who "enjoys being outdoors."
"Together, John and Tessie could light up a room with their smiles," reads the GoFundMe. "Help Tessie continue to light up the world with her smile, her kindness and her warmth. Gus and Freddy, John and Tessie’s joy and sunshine, need their mama. Please help. Donate now. And make it possible for Tessie to get the treatment she needs and to spend as much time as possible with her beloved sons."