The Berni & Murcer - Friends for LifeTM "Comfort Backpack" program is designed to improve the child's overall social and emotional well-being towards his or her illness through the normalcy of childhood play. Berni & Murcer - Friends for LifeTM interactive play manipulatives generate a renewal of inspired hope and energy in the child to fight his or her illness, gain the strength and desire to persevere through the rigors of treatment, and increase their coping ability to receive life enriching after-care.
Every child we help receives a “Comfort Backpack” filled with Berni & Murcer – Friends for LifeTM items developed with input from child psychologists, educators and medical professionals, created not just to entertain and distract the child from what they’re going through—but to comfort them, inspire them, and give them hope. The "Comfort Backpack" includes a soft and cuddly, plush Bernese Mountain Dog (Berni), the first book in a series of inspirational storybooks (starring Berni & his "dogfather" Murcer); a Berni Chemo/IV Bag Cover; engaging and fun activity books; a writing journal; a blanket, hat, water bottle; and more. As a unique feature, there’s an interactive website with added fun and educational resources for children and their families.
While some of the Berni & Murcer items are tactile and comfort children in the same way as a blanket or lovey does, others are interactive, inviting medical providers and families to share positive thoughts and messages as the backpack travels with the child from home to medical facilities. Children have the opportunity to bond with Berni & Murcer in ways that are heartfelt and deeply satisfying. More importantly, the Berni & Murcer items are not just play materials, they’re play therapy. As children go through the challenging battle of medical treatments, they often need more than medicine alone. Therapeutic programs have been proven to increase treatment success and at Berni & Murcer – Friends for LifeTM, we are dedicated to providing emotional comfort for children by creating joy-filled, magical adventures with Berni & Murcer!
In 2005, a 10-year old boy named Aaron Gaberman was diagnosed with two cancerous brain tumors that placed his life in jeopardy. Aaron, an avid fan of the New York Yankees, heard that former New York Yankee great Bobby Murcer also had brain cancer. Aaron reached out to Bobby and the two became fast and enduring friends—“friends for life.” Bobby contributed his surname and heroic spirit both on and off the field to our mission of comforting seriously ill children, hence the name Murcer.
The Berni part of our name was inspired by Bernese Mountain dogs, animals known for their loyalty, gentleness, great courage - not to mention their love of children. These dogs also become “friends for life,” and play a key role in the comfort and support we provide. Putting together the two concepts, we arrived at the name Berni & Murcer.
As for Aaron Gaberman, he continues to be thriving and living life to the fullest! As a recent Sports Communications graduate from Marist College, Aaron continues to be an unwavering activist for pediatric cancer and works tirelessly to bring hope and healing into the lives of others facing a life-threatening illness. With his help, direct input from a childhood cancer survivor goes towards the development of Berni & Murcer - Friends for LifeTM products and is a continued major source of inspiration for our mission.
Website by Berni & Murcer - Friends for LifeTM, Inc.