Why do Oneida area residents Relay for Life? Some people join the annual American Cancer Society event in June in memory of a loved one who was lost to cancer. Others join to raise funds to fight the disease that affects seven individuals in the county each week.
Bill Wiley of Sherrill relays as a survivor.
In May of 2005, Wiley was diagnosed with colorectal cancer that had metastasized to his liver. He went through treatment including chemotherapy and surgery, traveling back and forth between his doctors in Oneida and his doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City.
Now cancer-free, Wiley believes his health is a miracle.
"I had a lot of family and friends, people in this community and in others, praying for me to get well, and I thank them," Wiley said. "I put my health in God's hands and he took care of me."
Last year, those people were at the Relay For Life in Oneida when Wiley walked the opening lap -- a lap to honor survivors for their fight. Wiley's wife walked with him as his caregiver. Wiley also was the guest survivor speaker at the relay.
Relay for Life is an overnight community celebration of hope and survivorship. Teams camp out and take turns walking or running around a track -- relay-style -- to raise funds to fight cancer.
Last year's event was memorable for Wiley, although heavy rain cancelled many of the planned activities. He is looking forward to this year's event -- set for June 9 and 10 at Oneida High School -- to see some of those events.
Wiley said he is looking forward most to seeing the luminary ceremony. At nightfall, participants will light hundreds of luminaria around the track in a moving ceremony to honor cancer survivors as well as friends and family members lost to the disease.