Tears for Riley as tragedy strikes Canada squash for the third time
By LEE HORTON – Squash Mad Reporter
SQUASH loving teenager Riley Mercer, whose battle with cancer prompted a large vigil in Canada last month and inspired thousands of people, sadly died this week.
Riley, 15, died early Tuesday morning at the Janeway Child Health Centre in St. John’s, New Foundland, a family friend posted on the ‘Friends of Riley Mercer’ Facebook page.
“He was the most wonderful kid you could ever meet,” Rick Webber wrote on behalf of parents Bernie and Louise Mercer.
Squash Canada Executive Director, Danny Da Costa, said today: “Riley loved playing squash and he was a valued member of the C.B.S junior squash program, we are sad to hear that he lost his life due to brain cancer and we would like to extend our condolences to his family, Squash NL and his coach Eric Hart”.
Riley is the third squash player to pass away in the past month. Canadian squash player Adrian Dudzicki died when he was hit by a vehicle while riding his bike to the National Squash Academy. And coach Mark Sachvie died from a heart attack while attending Adrian’s memorial.
Mark was Squash Ontario’s President and one of the most influential builders of squash in Canada, 1,500 people at White Oaks Conference Resort & Spa attended his celebration of life on Thursday December 5th.
Riley was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in 2011, nearly 11 years after his sister Alex died of the same disease.
Hundreds of people gathered around the Mercers’ home on November 4 for an emotional prayer vigil.
Later in November, thousands — many with no connection to the family — took part in a fundraiser to help cover the expenses of Riley’s parents as they cared for him at home.
Riley’s mum Louise Mercer told supporters at November’s vigil that she relied on her son’s good humour to get through the loss of her daughter.
When her son was diagnosed with the same cancer, she said last month, Riley insisted he would recover.
Thousands — many with no connection to the family — took part in a fundraiser to help cover the expenses of Riley’s parents as they cared for him at home.
“I would always tell Riley, ‘you’d better not go before me,'” Louise said during an emotional tribute. “He would always laugh and say, ‘I won’t.’ Well, Riley Mercer, I’m going to tell you one last time, you’d better not go before me.”
Family friends say Riley maintained his positive outlook even as the cancer ravaged his body, including the loss of sight and hearing.
“He never complains. He hasn’t complained once throughout this entire ordeal,” Webber told CBC News last month.
Webber said Louise and Bernie Mercer have been coping as best as they can with their son’s death, drawing strength from their community.
“They know they have that support,” said Webber. “It’s amazing, the last month, month and a half has been so uplifting for them.”