Bottle Drive Returns for Roger Neilson House On September 8-9

| September 3, 2018 | 6 Comments


The happiest moment of my life came on June 22, 2018, at the Roger Neilson House – a place that, I must admit, I didn’t know too much about, but a place that I knew I never wanted my children to ever have to go to. 

As an employee of the Beer Store, in the Ottawa District, I’d done my part to help raise money for the Roger Neilson House for about 8 years, every August and September. I’d ask customers if they’d like to donate their empties for sick children, or if they’d like to leave a dollar for kids in palliative care. But, most of what I knew about Roger Neilson House was what the poster that hung in our lobbies said – that it helps hundreds of children and their families in the Ottawa area, who are facing life-limiting health issues.

I honestly thought that there were hundreds of dying children in this place, at any given time. It sounded like the saddest place on earth. It definitely sounded like a place I hoped I’d never have to be in.

On June 2, 2018, my wife, Shelby, and I welcomed our daughter, Olivia, into the world. Unfortunately, she was born with an extremely rare and severely life-limiting metabolic disorder called Zellweger Syndrome. After about two weeks spent at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Shelby and I were given this diagnosis, and we were told to prepare to lose our daughter very shortly.

Staff from the Roger Neilson House met with us. They invited us to stay at the Roger Neilson House for as long as Olivia lived, as an option. At the time, Olivia was so reliant on her breathing apparatus, which could not be used at Roger Neilson House, that we thought she might only live for 20 minutes once we left her hospital bed. Because of this, we weren’t sure if it was worth moving all our things from CHEO to Roger Neilson House, but we agreed to go on a tour first, to help us decide.

I was astonished to find out that the Roger Neilson House only has room for 7 patients at a time. Most of the patients, though they weren’t expected to live into their adult years, weren’t necessarily on their deathbeds. Most of them would stay for days or weeks at a time, often when they needed special treatment, or just to give their parents some support. Most of them were laughing and smiling and playing and living.

The staff showed us the room that they had for us. It looked like a king suit at a five star hotel. They welcomed us to bring Olivia for her remaining time. As soon as we saw it, we knew that it would make our family so much more comfortable.


Bottle Drive Returns for Roger Neilson House

Rick Moreno’s family staying at the Roger Neilson House


We took Olivia to the Roger Neilson House and, somehow, she lived for three entire days without her breathing machines – machines that had made it almost impossible for us to hold her, or cuddle her, or bathe her without it being a major ordeal.

They were three precious, beautiful days. We got to hold our baby. We got to cuddle with her – we were even able to have her nap in the bed with us. We got to give her a bath in a huge tub.

We didn’t want to leave the room, because we wanted to soak in every single second with our girl. At the Roger Neilson House, they cooked us meals and brought them up to our room. There was always coffee and drinks. Anything we needed. We were able to have our friends and family in the suit. We never had to leave our baby’s side. It was so comfortable that we often forgot why we needed to be there. It really did feel like home.

Social workers and doctors and nurses came to check on us all, every few hours. They made beautiful little keepsakes for us, they sent a professional photographer to the room, and they made sure that our three-year-old son, Dezmond, was playing, having fun, and coping with the situation as best he could.

Dezmond was proud to be a big brother from the second he saw Olivia, but at CHEO, he couldn’t really bond much with her. On June 22, we were watching television in the family room of our Roger Neilson House home. I was holding Olivia and I was lying down on the couch, hoping to have her fall asleep on my chest. Dezmond stopped me and said, “I want her to lay on my chest!” Our son always gets what he wants, so we obliged.

The happiest moment of my life was watching Dezmond lay on the couch, with his three-week-old sister lying on top of him. He had the biggest smile that I’ve ever seen. He was so happy; he was so proud. Just when I thought the moment couldn’t get any better, the two of them fell asleep together, and had an hour-long nap, embracing each other.

I now fully understand what the Roger Neilson House is. It is whatever families like ours need it to be, when they need it most.  It is a place where memories are made, as joy and love overpower fear and sorrow. It is a place that my family and I will forever cherish our time spent at. It is a place that we needed. It is a place that supported us, and continues to support us with it’s many bereavement programs. It is a place that helps so many families in our community far more than we needed it to help us, in our short time there.

It is a place that would not exist, if it weren’t for people like you, doing your part, big or small, to help raise funds and awareness.

On behalf of my family, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for everything that you do to support the Roger Neilson House. It’s because of your efforts that I got to experience the happiest moment of my life.


Rick Moreno

Bottle Drive Returns for Roger Neilson House


Bottle Drive Returns for Roger Neilson House

Bottle Drive Returns for Roger Neilson House


This heartfelt story is just one of the many reasons to donate your empty beer, wine, spirit or cooler bottles to your local beer store!

Join me on September 8-9 to donate your empties at any area Beer Store!

On September 8th and 9th, more than a hundred area Beer Store locations are hosting the Returns for Roger Neilson House bottle drive. It’s time to bring that stack of empties that has been building in your garage or basement this summer to the beer store!

Empties are spare change to most people, but they can change the life of a child at Roger Neilson House.



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Category: Living, Non-Profit, Ottawa Events

About the Author ()

Lyne is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI), Certified Professional Wedding Consultant, and an Event Planner. It has always been her dream to create a website dedicated just for Moms since her children were young. Thus, after 10 years, she finally accomplished it, and the Ottawa Mommy Club was born in May 2011. She loves all things Disney and is an avid chocoholic. She was also the Queen B of the BConnected Conference, Canada's Digital Influencer and social media Conference in Ottawa and Toronto. She coordinated the Annual Infant Information Day/Early Years Expo for the City of Ottawa for 8 years. She was also the co-chair of the Navan for Kraft Hockeyville 2009-2011 committee that organized five community events within 6 months, and helped Navan reach the top 10 finalists in Canada. In April 2011, she received the City of Ottawa Mayor's City Builder Award.

Comments (6)

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  1. Calvin says:

    I think it’s quite meaningful. Definitely seen a lot of successful bottle drives. They do raise a surprising amount.

  2. Carole D says:

    What a wonderful place! I don’t think we have anything like this here for children. We have an hospice for adult that is so wonderful for adult.

  3. LisaM says:

    How great that such places exist!

  4. Rene says:

    Thank you for posting, every year I volunteer my time for the bottle drive but unfortunately this year due to surgery I can’t but prior we stock piled our empties in order to donate. Just got back from TBS Sept 07 after donating and the staff was extremely grateful and assisted me with my returns. One dime at a time can make a huge difference for a worthwhile cause. We don’t have any children but we are blessed that the children in our lives are healthy and for that bringing returns that have already been paid for is the least we can do for the families that need it.

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