By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
Angelo Wilford was a fighter that not only beat Histiocytic Cancer Sarcoma three times, he also never let his battle stop him from doing things he wanted to do. Some of the things Wilford did the average person would not have the courage or fortitude to do in his situation.
Wilford on the other hand was brave and liked sky diving, jet skiing, riding 4-wheel vehicles, playing golf, and traveling throughout the country. When he wasn’t on an adventure, he was studying nursing at Indiana University Northwest and playing the drums on Sundays at his father’s church City of Praise Church, New Mount Moriah Baptist Church and Emanuel Baptist Church.
Surprising to those who knew the extent of his condition was that Angelo was under hospice care. You would never know it by the way he remained so active. He was often seen out and about in and around the city. What many also found remarkable was that despite all the surgeries and pain he endured throughout his life, he would not complain.
Angelo traveled to Riley Children’s Hospital on Saturday where he spent 23 hours sleeping with his father Pastor Richard Wilford and sister Skye by his side during his final hours. His farther said Angelo’s last words to him were that he loved him. He said, “I tried to feed him, but he wanted to maintain his independence as much as possible even though he needed my help. He said I got it.”
He was diagnosed with the disease while he was a senior in high school. It is a rare form of cancer in which the body produces an overabundance of white blood cells, which form tumors. During his lifetime Angelo had his spleen and gallbladder removed, numerous transfusions, multiple rounds of chemotherapy and stem cell transplant surgeries.
The term “I Wouldn’t Complain” came from Angelo during the time he appeared-on radio station WLTH. While he was being interviewed, he told his listening audience that he never talked about his cancer and how it was affecting him because “He Wouldn’t Complain.” That’s how the phrase caught on.
Angelo and his father started a group entitled an “Army of Angelo” as a foundation, which would raise money to help other people who were fighting similar battles with cancer. Through this foundation hundreds of dollars have been raised to help young children, especially during the Christmas season, to receive special gifts and trips from family members that were unable to visit with them while in the hospital.
Pastor Wilford said Angelo once told him he wanted his legacy to be that he is remembered as a fighter that didn’t give up. He said, “I asked him what keeps him going and he said that he believed that things were going to get better. He said if you take your time things will get better.”
Issac Andrew Culver, Associate Pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church said, “In the short time that he graced this earth Angelo has made a profound impact. He was a world changer! With his message that God gave him it encourages us to stop complaining, #fight4it, I will carry for the rest of my life!,” Culver said.
According to Rev. Wilford, numerous people are anticipated to fill the Genesis Convention Center on Saturday for his son’s Homegoing Service from as far away as Zimbabwe, Africa; London, England and other parts of the world. There will be a musical homegoing celebration Friday, December 16 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Clark Road Missionary Baptist Church in Gary. Services for Angelo will be held Saturday, December 17 with visitation at 9 a.m. and the Homegoing Service at 11 a.m. at the Genesis Convention Center. Angelo is survived by his father, mother, two sisters, a brother and other relatives, church supporters and countless friends.