"When I was 14, I was on a little dirt bike with one of my best friends," Merrill explained of the day the pair was hit by a car. Merrill's foot was badly injured.
"We tried to save my foot for a month and a half," he said. "Doctors finally came in and said 'we have to amputate it.'"
As Merrill laid in the hospital bed wondering about his future, a fellow amputee visited him.
"He was a Marine from Camp Pendleton," he said. "He gave me hope. He gave me an envision of what my future could be."
Merrill credits the Marine for giving him inspiration to continue toward his dream of being a champion athlete.
Saturday he visited central Arkansas to return the favor
"Right after an amputation, they have about 12 weeks of heal time where they don't do anything," said Scott Burton, president of a new non profit called A.B.L.E. "A lot of times depression can set in."
That's when A.B.L.E sends in what it calls "ambassadors." People like Merrill who've lost limbs and don't skip a step.
Now, 23 years old and competing in track and field at the collegiate level in California, Merrill was in Bryant Saturday for A.B.L.E.'s first fundraiser, fulfilling a vision he had nearly a decade ago.
"Ever since I was in the hospital bed, I knew that God had a purpose and a reason for me," Merrill said.
A.B.L.E. raised nearly $5,000 with the event.
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