Apr 22, 2013 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
William Relyea was diagnosed with Stage 3 Neuroblastoma on Dec. 7, 2009, at six months of age. While he successfully underwent chemotheraphy to shrink an invasive abdominal tumor followed by a successful surgery, the 3-year-old Baldwinsville boy struggles with serious post-surgical treatment complications. His body is now dependent on IV nutrition and he has life threatening medical emergencies.
Last week, he was able to focus on something other than his condition when the Baldwinsville Boys Lacrosse Team invited the youth to their practices and Friday night game against Auburn.
It all started when Kevin Ferrigan, a member of the Boys Lacrosse Booster Board, learned about William from fellow lacrosse parent Sue Bertrand, founder of Maureen’s Hope Foundation, and was touched by the boy’s story. Ferrigan suggested the team dedicate a game to William to raise awareness among players “as to what a family in our community is going through.”
While many of the players are involved with the Maureen’s Hope Foundation’s youth group, Ferrigan said he wants all the players to know there is more to life than just lacrosse and being a high school student.
“We hope the team can learn from a little 3-year-old boy,” he said.
That education began on Wednesday, April 10, when the boy’s mother, Kristie, spoke with team members about the adversity he has faced since an infant.
“When Mrs. Relyea told her story, our entire team and coaches were deeply moved,” said Boys Lax Coach Pete Fiorini. “It can’t help but be an inspiration to anyone who hears his story and what he has overcome and continues to battle.”
After hearing about William’s plight, the team presented William and his 6-year-old brother, Nicholas, with lacrosse sticks purchased by the team for the boys. Over the next two days, Fiorini and a few players took time out of their practice to work with the boys on shooting, face-offs, catching and more.
The practices culminated with William and Nicholas leading the players out onto the field for their Friday night game, which was held at Solvay High School (the home game was moved to Solvay where there is an artificial turf field). After the National Anthem, an announcement was made designating the day as William Relyea Day then an honorary face-off took place in which Fiorini brought William to mid-field where William was allowed to blow the whistle for the face-off to begin. Afterward, the boy was given the game ball signed by the coach and the Baldwinsville and Auburn face-off players. The game finished with William leading the players through the customary handshake line.
“The interaction between William and our team has been great,” Fiorini said. “He is a wonderful little guy and I think he will become our adopted little brother as our season moves forward.”
While the lacrosse team has supported various causes in the past, their week with William was something entirely different, Fiorini said.
“Our main drive was to have a few special days for William, his brother and his mom,” he said. “We’ve been inspired to come into William’s life.”
To learn more about William, visit caringbridge.org/visit/williamrelyea.