Family has experienced heartbreak and sorrow, but brought a community together by helping their neighbors.
Bernie and Louise Mercer lost their only children to cancer. They’ve turned their grief into a mission, to make their community a better place.
In 2002 and 2013 respectively, Alex, 9, and Riley, 15, passed away due to brain cancer. Rather than dwell on it, Bernie and Louise want to take a stand. Bernie says they manage a number of different outreach events in the Conception Bay South area.
“A way for us to pay it forward would be the functions that we’re doing, which would be the bike ride now that we look after in July, the toy drive in December and the food drive in May,” said Bernie. “(This) is why we do these events now just to pay it forward in Alex and Riley’s name just so that their memories and their spirits will be left alive here in CBS forever.”
Bernie and Louise Mercer lost their two children to cancer. They pay tribute to Alex and Riley by hosting events and raising money to make their community better. Josh White/Kicker.
Louise says the proceeds go to a very special place.
“All the money that we raise goes towards the Jack Hand Foundation,” said Louise. “Dr. Jack Hand, Alex’s oncologist, he was sick himself while Riley was diagnosed …”
Hand died in 2012 just one year before Riley died.
“We find that it is a great cause and we wanted a great cause so that people would come out and help us support the Jack Hand Foundation.”
They couple has raised tens of thousands dollars through the Ride for Riley, the food drive, and brightened the Christmases of needy families by making sure children had toys on Christmas morning.
Stephen Tessier, the former mayor of CBS, says Bernie and Louise have done a lot for the community.
“I think they managed to bring the community together,” said Tessier. “They do the toy drive at Christmas and the Ride for Riley. It seems people just rally around what they’re doing and gives them an opportunity to bring the residents of CBS together.”
Louise says the support and the fact people want to see Riley and Alex live on in helps them get through each day. But, she says, she’d rather have her children back.
“It’s nice not to be recognized for the reason that we are recognized,” said Louise.
Tessier says the couple has set an example for the rest of the community.
“They have taken their tragedy and turned it into an amazing gift back to the community,” said Tessier.