Merrill Ann Culverhouse
Feature Story
Miss Alabama Outstanding Teen participant Merrill Ann Culverhouse has been an advocate for Children’s of Alabama for years. It’s one of her passions. She’s worked to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) and was named a CMN Miracle Maker Award Winner just a couple of years ago for raising the most money for CMN. “I have such a strong passion and commitment to Children’s,” Merrill Ann says. “They do so much for so many children and so many families.”

Merrill Ann is included on that list of children helped by Children’s. When she was nine, she broke her arm in a gymnastics accident. At that time, she went to a local orthopedic doctor in Andalusia, Alabama to have her arm set in a cast. “We thought that everything was fine,” Merrill Ann’s mother, Susan, said. “But the very next year her radius outgrew her ulna and that meant surgery.”

Merrill Ann was then referred to Dr. John Killian, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Children’s at the time, for a surgery that required removing a bone in order to realign her wrist. “It went fabulous,” Susan said. “And it was really an eye opening experience, not just for Merrill Ann, but for our whole family.”

It was that little bit of time at Children’s that ignited Merrill Ann’s passion for the hospital. Seeing the willingness of the hospital employees to care for children and their families affected her tremendously. “My surgery wasn’t a big ordeal, but they did so much to take care of me and make me feel comfortable,” Merrill Ann said. “While I was there I also got to see the other kids and what they were going through. Before then, I never realized how blessed and fortunate I was with my health. I also didn’t realize how Children’s works so hard to accommodate the needs of these kids. It became really important for me to give back.”

Since then, Merrill Ann has done everything she can to give back. She raises money through a number of fundraisers, from selling T-shirts and balloons to Christmas toy drives. She focuses on raising money for the hospital as well as collecting items needed at the hospital such as arts and crafts materials for patients. “It’s important for me for the kids to always have fun items to choose from in the craft room,” Merrill Ann says. “When these kids are stuck in the hospital for a prolonged period of time, the ability to do arts and crafts like they would at home can help them feel a little more comfortable.”

With such a strong passion, Merrill Ann’s work for Children’s won’t slow anytime soon, even though she recently had undergo back surgery due to a herniated disc. “Children’s has such a positive impact on the lives of so many children,” Merrill Ann says. “They put children first and that’s one of the many things that really sets them apart.”