Nicole Bacon’s passion for ensuring River City Vineyard (RCV) continues to offer their services to the Sarnia community comes from a very personal place. This past year, her team raised $4,765 for the organization during Sarnia’s annual Race To Erase, matching the funds she raised earlier in the year during another event, Coldest Night of the Year. For Nicole, supporting RCV is extremely important, and she hopes to continue to make a difference for the organization while inspiring others.

“My brother Brad was an addict and at the time I simply thought he was making poor choices,” Nicole says. “I didn’t really understand his problems or where he was mentally.” Unfortunately, Brad later overdosed in Nicole’s basement - leaving her and others who loved him devastated. It took Nicole time to find the courage to go into Brad’s room, but when she finally did, she found receipts from donations he had been making to RCV. This local charity offers Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and a food bank, among other things. Originally it was just for men, but it has expanded to accommodate women, too. “I thought to myself, Brad didn’t even have shoes when he moved into my house, so I wondered why he was giving money to this organization. I looked into it and realized it was a much-needed support for people with mental health issues and addiction in our community.”

On Brad’s first birthday after he passed, Nicole and her friends gathered personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste and donated them to RCV. After this, Nicole and her friends decided to raise money by participating in two of Sarnia’s biggest fundraising events: Race To Erase and The Coldest Night Of The Year. “Race To Erase is like an Amazing Race-style race around the city,” Nicole says. “You are given a location to go to and when you get there you are given a challenge where you compete against other teams in the fastest time. I love Race To Erase!” Nicole’s team – Baconators – included James Fraser, and Kristin and Justin Clowry.

The Coldest Night of the Year is a family-friendly walk in support of local charities serving people experiencing hurt, hunger, and homelessness. Nicole’s Coldest Night Of The Year team included Brianne Gerryts, Shannon Lansue, Misty Dale, Samantha Prieur, Luette Herhold, Felicity Bazeley, Alisha Sheppard, James Fraser, and the Clowrys.

“When I am asked to speak about Brad, I’m always a bit hesitant,” Nicole admits. “But I talked to a friend who helped me write my brother’s eulogy and she said, ‘Nicole, I looked at you through tears as you told me you were worried your brother would only be remembered as a statistic. Your brother’s death caused you to take action and make our community better. Brad is no longer a statistic and people now know he led a life worthy of talking about.’”