At age 19, South Hero’s Stefan Pierson was diagnosed with osteosarcoma — or bone cancer. In his case, just below his left knee. A star soccer player and avid skiier at South Burlington High, Stefan didn’t let the cancer stop him from living life to the fullest. He married his high school sweetheart Allie. He waterskied, and snowmobiled.
His brother Seth Pierson recalls a doctors visit shortly after hitting the trails. “His doctor was asking what did you do this weekend and he said oh we went snowmobiling, and the doctor assumed it was just Allie and myself, but it was Allie, myself and my brother, we all went snowmobiling almost got stuck in the backwoods of Vermont.
Three years after his diagnosis, at age 22, he lost his battle with cancer September 30th, 2015.
As a young soccer player, stefan always dreamed of going to a world cup game. Too old to qualify for help from groups including Make-A-Wish, a classmate started an online fundraising campaign, and in 2014 his dream came true. Stefan and his friend attended the world cup in rio.
“When he went to the World Cup and saw the local support and how many people helped him, it was special.” remembers his father, Don Pierson.
His family and loved ones are now looking to provide that to others through the newly formed foundation, Conquer the Day. “When we looked around there wasn’t a lot of support for that demographic age group, 18-25 +. I looked all around the country there’s some local things but wasn’t that kind of support.” said Don.
There’s an official foundation launch party planned for August, but before then, a memorial soccer tournament at UVM on July 16th. The Pierson family dining room has been serving as more than just a place for meals as Don and Bernadette Pierson, along with their son Seth and others have been handling the logistics that come with putting on an event like this.
“We knew the soccer community, been to many many soccer tournaments, we thought it would be an easy thing to do. I guess when you’re behind the scenes you dont realize how much there is do to.” said Bernadette Pierson, Stefan’s mother.
Don added, “While the tournament is really important to us, it’s really beyond results of the game. It’s bigger than that and it affects a lot of people and we’re really happy and excited about putting this together.”
Registration is still open to sign up for this years tournament. There’s several divisions, including U10/12 girls, U10/12 boys, U14/16 boys, U14/16 girls and two adult (16+) divisions, one that’s competitive, the other is non-competitive.
For more information on the soccer tournament, and Conquer the Day, click here.