Dozens of friends and family members came to pay their respects to 28-year-old Heather Ely on Monday evening at the Elbridge Community Church.
Ely passed away on Friday at Upstate University Hospital after a long battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She was a teaching aide and former student at Jordan-Elbridge High School.
Several of Ely's friends spoke of her humor, selflessness and strength as they remembered her.
"She was an amazing, strong, beautiful woman who just touched so many people's lives," said childhood friend Meghan Calamel.
"She always, always had a smile on her face," said close friend Amanda Brostek. "And she cared more about your day than she did about her own problems, from the tiniest things. So she was just a great person to have around, a great inspiration."
"The funniest moments of my life were probably with Heather because, you know, I've grown up through all the stages of my life with her," said childhood friend Theresa Seeley.
Ely's family members are now taking comfort in one another as they grieve.
"We only have one life to live," said Ella Thorpe, one of Ely's cousins. "We never know when we could lose someone...I appreciate my cousins a lot more. And it kind of just made me want to be with my family more."
Funeral services for Ely will be on Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. at the Elbridge Community Church. Jordan-Elbridge High School will be dismissed at 10:20 a.m. to allow students and staff to attend services.