Small But Strong: Child battling rare disease exudes true meaning of Christmas


BURRILLVILLE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s no surprise that 10-year-old Zoie Mercier’s living room Christmas tree is surrounded by toys and games this holiday.

But what is surprising, is that none of it is for her.

The gifts are for children at Boston Children’s Hospital, a place Zoie and her brother, Jacoby, know all too well.

Diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, both children have tumors in their brain, kidneys and heart. Both Zoie and Jacoby make constant trips to Boston Children’s Hospital for monitoring.

That’s what inspired Zoie to collect gifts for the children fighting for their lives in a place that has given her so much over the years.

“At times, when we go up for MRI’s, we can be waiting for three, sometimes four hours before they’re even taken,” Zoie’s mom Jerilyn said. “For them to have a little something to do, it keeps their mind at ease.”

Zoie started a campaign in 2017 to collect toys and activities for children receiving treatment at the hospital.

This year, her goal was to collect 1,000 gifts. By early December, she already had more than 2,000, which included everything from coloring books, to crayons, to Play-Doh and stickers.

Zoie said she plans to deliver everything she’s collected in the first week of the new year.

“The doctors are gonna come out and they’re gonna say, ‘Wow,'” Zoie said with a smile. 

Zoie’s not just Small but Strong, she’s also a reminder to everyone that giving, not receiving, is the true spirit of Christmas.

Anyone who would like to donate toys and games can send them to Zoie Mercier at 43 Eagle Peak Road in Pascoag R.I., 02859.

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