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Knollwood, Towson communities rallies around neighborhood boy fighting leukemia

Carp streamers called koinobori are popping up all over the Knollwood neighborhood of Towson.

The Japanese windsocks, which traditionally honor kids for Children’s Day in May, are flying in honor of Andrew Mercier, a 10-year-old Knollwood resident battling leukemia.

“It’s neat to walk around the neighborhood and see support from, in particular, neighbors we’ve never met,” said Paul Mercier, Andrew’s father. “It’s neat to just see their support for our little 10-year-old boy.”

David Riley, president of the Knollwood Association, said the neighborhood wanted to do something visible to show support for Andrew.

“We wanted to respond and show solidarity,” Riley said.

Mercier said Andrew was diagnosed with leukemia on Easter Sunday and has been in and out of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center since then.

Andrew’s disease is “very curable,” but Mercier said infections and other side effects have been challenging, as was missing Andrew’s 10th birthday party.

“We’ve always known he’s been a good kid but he’s been absolutely amazing through this entire process,” Mercier said. “He’s been stronger than me and my wife; he has shown a strength we never imagined. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t cry.”

Mercier said one thing that has helped his son is seeing the support of his communities. Friends and neighbors set up meal trains to drop off food every few days. Andrew’s Cub Scout troop ordered “Team Andrew” rubber bracelets, and his classmates at Stoneleigh Elementary School signed a poster for him.

And the koinobori have spread beyond Knollwood. People on social media have reported hanging them as far away as Iowa.

Riley said more than two dozen koinobori have been hung in Towson, centered around Knollwood.

In addition to the streamers, Riley said artists from Towson’s Triple Crown Tattoos drew a carp picture for kids to print out, color in and mail to Andrew.

Mercier said what the family wants most for Andrew now is just that — support and notes of encouragement. He said the family does not need financial assistance, and Andrew has plenty of toys, but a note, or a card or a drawing from another kid, “that’d be huge.”

Supporters can mail notes to Andrew at P.O. Box 20209, Towson, MD 21284.

“It’s been amazing,” Mercier said. “We think we live in a wonderful community and we don’t realize how amazing they are until something like this happens.”

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