Some people are born with a name that just sounds like greatness. Whitney Mercilus is one of those. With the last name of Mercilus, how could he not play a professional sport? Considering in football, the defensive line should never show an ounce of “Merci,” I think the NFL has been calling his name since childhood. So besides his name, what makes Whitney stand out to the community among so many other athletes? The answer is simple and it is written right on his face time and time again with his standard ear to ear grin. For someone who has improved year after year on the field, solidifying himself into a complete packaged player and shows no ‘Merci’ for an opposing team’s offense; Whitney has an absolute heart of gold and delivers nothing but ABSOLUTE ‘Merci’ off the field in the community.
On September 27th, I had the distinct pleasure of dining WithMerci. No…not technically alone with Mercilus, but with him and several of his close friends and supporters from around the community for the launch of his charity, WithMerci. His new foundation will assist in providing services and support to families of children with disabilities and special needs. There are numerous reasons why I have been a fan of Whitney’s for the past several years. The addition of his new charity, along with his ability to transform himself into a “complete” athlete at his position and a highly respected fixture in the local community has elevated his already admirable qualities to the next level.
You see, my high school sweetheart had a brother, Jeremy, with down’s syndrome. I would often go over there after school often and help the family of 5 out however they needed. With 2 working parents, a child in elementary school, one in junior high, my boyfriend in high school and Jeremy, I wanted to help out in any way possible. I remember being slightly terrified the first time I was left alone to watch Jeremy since I really didn’t know what to, but by assisting them, I grew my bond with him. I gained such respect for any family that has a child of disability. Jeremy did have some setbacks and didn’t pick things up as quickly as others his age, but I soon realized that he was just like me or you or anyone else on the street. He was always so sweet, caring and determined to do the most normal things in life and was actually a lot more responsible than people who were not considered special needs. I am FOREVER thankful for those times with that family and it is so great to see Jeremy (via social media) working and living as normal of a life as possible today. He brings a different and much needed joy to the world and it is because he has a wonderful family that helped him get where he is today.
To see Whitney Mercilus wanting to focus on families of children with special needs is a beautiful thing. There is so much that goes into properly taking care of a child with a disability and it can be mentally and physically taxing on any family, let alone, an individual. With love and support, many of these families can and will succeed to live lives and build memories beyond their wildest expectations. WithMerci will be near and dear to my heart and I feel blessed to have been there for the launch of something that I can tell is destined for greatness.
Over the years, I have attended many various charity functions from working around sports and entertainment, but the launch of WithMerci estabilished a first for me. For their first official event, WithMerci scored a touchdown (corny pun fully intended). The event was held on the upper level of Del Frisco’s in the Galleria area of Houston and from entry to exit, everyone was very welcoming and extremely friendly (fully mirroring Mercilus’ jovial yet determined personality). The turnout was a definite success as the upstairs area was jam packed with tables full of sponsors, donors, fans and select Texans players who took time out of their own busy schedules to support their teammate. The evening started with a cocktail hour and it was great to be able to mix and mingle with all of the attendees instead of being forced directly to our reserved table. I met so many great people and contacts who truly were excited for Mercilus and to be a part of this event. There was a buzz of electricity and excitement from the moment we checked in and that theme carried on throughout the night. After about an hour, we all made way to our tables to sit down and were greeted with a fantastic surprise in a red Bank of Texas bag at our seats. The bag was stuffed with a full sized autographed, Whitney Mercilus Texans football! Even though I saw him post on social media a few days prior that he was signing footballs, I didn’t think that ALL attendees would receive one so I was pleasantly surprised at the thoughtful gift for supporting WithMerci.
The remainder of the evening flowed mostly without hitch and the dinner served by Del Frisco’s and the WithMerci Foundation was wonderfully top notch (you can see our menu choices for the evening in my photo gallery for the event). An aura of sentiment was brought to the evening when dinner was kicked off by Mercilus’ parents introducing their son. You could truly see the pride beaming all over their faces as Whitney’s father talked about his son, life opportunities, staying humble, being gracious and the charity. To keep us moving through dinner, we were MC’d by the delightful and entertaining voices of the original Texan, Chester Pitts and KPRC reporter Owen Conflenti . They kept the night timed, in order and provided some interesting hilarity while dining. Throughout dinner there was a silent auction in the Texans banquet room that included items by Muhammad Ali, fellow Texans players and experiences from sponsors like the Houston Astros and Wildcat Golf Club. After dinner, the floor was opened up to mix and mingle with other tables and athletes who were in attendance. All players in attendance were beyond welcoming and happy to be there supporting their teammate and friend in this exciting new chapter of his life.
The amazing teamwork of the staff of Boom Media and Del Frisco’s made the overall outcome a successful event that stayed lighthearted, yet focused on the cause at hand. This was by far one of the best charity events I have been to because of the execution of the evening and the welcoming feeling that lingered with you throughout the night. WithMerci successfully made everyone feel at home and if they keep up that momentum, it will take them VERY far in the near future. I highly recommend you follow them on social media and visit their web page (all info is included below) to keep posted on their next event. If their dinner launch event was ANY indication as to how things will go in the future, then you definitely don’t want to miss out on the next one because I predict that they will only get better with time. A successful event is a hard and fine balance and they walked the line almost without falter. I know I will be around for the next one, so please join me in support of WithMerci and let’s help them build something great. Plus, who doesn’t want to have fun AND feel special while supporting a great cause??
A Blogger Always Ready to Start, Live, Work and Give…WithMerci
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