Prayer vigil for Riley Mercer brings hundreds to C.B.S.

Several hundred people are taking part in a prayer vigil outside the home of Riley Mercer, 15, in Conception Bay South.

Teenager second child in his family to be stricken with rare cancer

Hundreds of people gather outside the Mercer family home in C.B.S. to take part in a prayer vigil for Riley Mercer, 15. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

Several hundred people are taking part in a prayer vigil outside the home of Riley Mercer, 15 in Conception Bay South. 

They came by bus, car and foot to the suburban neighbourhood, and carried small lights and candles. 

Bundled up in warm clothes, they clutched cups of hot chocolate provided by the Salvation Army and sang hymns.

Riley Mercer died five months ago from a rare form of brain cancer. (Courtesy Louise Mercer)
Mercer, 15, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in December 2011. When Mercer was a toddler, his older sister, Alex died of the same disease at the age of nine. 

In recent months, Mercer's condition has worsened. He has lost his sight and hearing and is now confined to bed. 

Last month, Villa Nova Junior High School in C.B.S. raised more than $14,000 to help support his family while his parents stay by his side. 

Parents feeling the strain

Mercer's illness has taken a toll on his parents, Louise and Bernard, who are caring for their second child with cancer. 

They said their son needs them so much, the only way they could attend was if the gathering was held outside their house. 

Alex Mercer, Riley's older sister, died of the same rare cancer when she was nine years old. (Courtesy Louise Mercer)
Louise Mercer has planned to speak at the vigil, about how Riley's illness and Alex's death have affected her family. 

"She really feels like she needs [this] now," said Carla Crotty, a friend of the Mercer family. 

The vigil has been organized by the Long Pond Salvation Army, two local schools, and friends of the Mercer family. The RNC has been providing traffic enforcement services in the area. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.