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A Victor's Life

By the Fireflies Team

"There is more to life than increasing its speed." --Gandhi

Merri pulled the covers over her head hoping that if she wasn't seen perhaps her adopted stepmother would ignore her. She could hear birds chirping outside the window. . . if Merri had only been a bird, she could have flown away from the torment a long time ago.

This small soul began life as a loved little girl. However, the deaths of both her parents over a period of a few years resulted in her being adopted by her stepmom. Not only adopted, but also terribly abused. Fearing the night and fearing the day, Merri could only dream of a safe, free, loving existence.

As a young girl, she endured much and vowed that when she was older she would do something to help other adopted children live in safety. And once grown, Merri did just that and more.

After 30 years in broadcasting, Merri serves as Director of Community Relations at WGN-TV in Chicago, Illinois, USA. This enables her to supervise the programs that reach over 55 million homes. She also works as a manager of the TV channel's Children's Charities where over 25 million dollars have been raised. The monies raised have been given solely to children's organizations.

Because of Merri's efforts in raising awareness about the needs of orphans, the adoption rate in Illinois increased over 50 percent and the credit is given to her and WGN-TV.

As the host of the United Negro College Fund's annual "Evening of Stars," Merri has helped raise over 30 million dollars for educational scholarships.

These 3 accomplishments are only a small representation of what she has accomplished. Her life is characterized by giving, giving and giving some more.

Merri lived a lonely and sad life as a child. Neglected and beaten, she knew no love. She could be bitter and angry. But she has taken her desperate past and made her present world better. By doing so, she has made not only her world better but the world of thousands of other children.

These feats take on even greater awe when you learn that Merri was kidnapped one night after taping a TV show. Her kidnappers shot her in the head and left her for dead in rural Illinois. She was abandoned, cold and bloody with two bullet holes in her head. Miraculously, Merri's life-long will and fight to survive came to her rescue once again and she crawled for help. Finding a nearby highway, she managed to flag down a passing car and received the needed medical care that would save her life.

Blinding headaches from the bullet shrapnel still left in her head gives her daily pain. But after more than a year of recovery, Merri has returned to the journalistic life she loves. Her near-death experience fueled a new passion - victim's rights. Merri has been instrumental in getting the first Victims Bill of Rights legislation passed in Illinois. That bill has since become the example for the rest of the USA's victim's legislation.

Today Merri lives a rich fulfilling life. A survivor's life. A life that has left its scars on her body and her soul. But it's a victor's life! She has chosen to give back and turn what was intended for evil into good. I hope you too can choose that. I know you can. Your life matters. You matter. Take hope from Merri's life and choose to make a positive difference -no matter where you have come from!

Ginny Dye, Sandi Valentine & Suess Karlsson are a team of writers who all share a passion to empower and motivate everyone who they touch through their writing.
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