Home Full of Joy & Sunshine

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Posted just after John passed away and Tessie learned of her inoperable stage 4 cancer diagnosis on June 16th, 2017. 

Tessie needs us now!

For the last six years, Tessie Sylvester has cared for her husband, John “Sly” Sylvester, as he battled ALS.  John, a beloved soccer coach and most importantly a beloved husband and dad to Gus (6) and Freddy (5), passed away on Friday, June 16 at the age of 44.

John’s greatest hope was that Tessie and his boys would be cared for and live long, healthy lives. But just days before his death, Tessie learned that she has cancer. It’s adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that forms in mucus-secreting glands. It’s unclear what the primary source of the cancer is, but it has metastasized to Tessie’s liver and lymph nodes. Because of this, surgery is not an option for Tessie.

Tessie is terrified by the thought of leaving her sons without their daddy and mommy. She is only 36 years old and she is going to do everything she can to fight this cancer. She will have chemotherapy to try to keep it at bay and buy her time with her sons.

Tessie is self-insured and now a single parent. She will not be able to work during treatment. She needs our help, and she needs it now!

John and Tessie always gave back!

John and Tessie met in 2001 while they were both coaching summer youth soccer. They were brought together by their love of soccer, their dedication to their families, their strong faith and their belief in giving back to the community.

John spent his adult life helping others. He played for the Minnesota Thunder professional soccer team in the late 1990s, then worked in the Minneapolis Public Schools, Harvest African-centered Prep School in North Minneapolis, and as the girl’s coaching director for the Minneapolis United Soccer Club. John was dedicated to helping young people realize their dreams.

 As a young woman, Tessie worked hard to obtain an academic scholarship to St. Thomas University and later completed dental school so that she could provide a much-needed service in low-income communities. For many years she worked as a dentist in a free dental clinic in St. Paul serving homeless and marginalized people, and for the past few years has juggled motherhood, caring for John, and working at West St. Paul Family Dentistry.

Together John and Tessie could light up a room with their smiles. 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.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”
-Mary Anne Rademacher

Tessie’s courage, strength, and grace were unmatched on this Earth. Today, her body was freed from this place and now lives on in the hearts of her beloved boys, her brothers & sisters, her Mom & Dad, and her nieces and nephews. She is always with us.

Tessie & John and Tessie’s sister Jenny & her husband Chris recently adopted one another’s children as each other’s own. Gus, Freddy, Oscar, Edith (Edy), & Hazel are finding comfort and love in one another as brothers & sisters, as well as in the love of their Moms & Dads here in both body and in spirit. They are also surrounded by the unyielding love of their grandmas & grandpas, aunts & uncles, and their beautiful bond with their cousins.

On May 1st, 2019, cancer took Tessie's body away from our world. Her spirit lives strong in her boys and her family. 

“This is not going to be a sad, crying, mournful household. And that’s not how it’s going to be with this, either." -Tessie on June 16th, 2017

Tessie’s greatest wish was that her boys would be raised in a home full of love, laughter, and so much fun! “Promise me that you’ll have so much fun so I can see that! I'll always be with you.” 

All funds donated will go toward creating the loving and uplifting home and environment that Tessie always wanted for her boys.  A place where we, in body and in spirit, can raise our kids together with her and John. A home full of amazing strength, boundless courage, astonishing grace,…and SO MUCH FUN! 

We are eternally grateful for all of your support. We could not have made it this far without all of you.

Donations (0)

  • Anonymous 
    • $5 
    • 26 d
  • Karine Reed 
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • eugean Vanhorn 
    • $5 
    • 1 mo
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 2 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 2 mos


Jenny Thompson Halverson 
Saint Paul, MN
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