A Personal Platform

Crowned Mrs. Georgia International 2008, she chose arthritis awareness as her platform and is a spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation. “Helping other people takes you out of your own funk. It’s pure medicine,” she says.

When Meredith speaks to an audience of children with arthritis, she brings Suzy along. Three-and-a-half feet tall, with corkscrew blond curls and blue eyes, Suzy is a ventriloquist’s doll. The voice of the Arthritis Foundation sometimes comes out of Suzy’s painted mouth. Meredith, who taught herself ventriloquism with a course she bought on the Internet, says kids will often ask Suzy things they might not ask Suzy’s glamorous friend, “Mere.”

Of course, Mere is a real person who starts the day every month or two with pain roaring through her body. “I don’t have any magic formula,” she says. “I just try to push through it.” Despite unpredictable flares, she is a dependably eloquent advocate for people with arthritis and an indefatigable fundraiser.

Meredith and her husband, Matt, have partied at the Arthritis Foundation’s galas (including the Halloween Bone Bash and Crystal Ball) and marched along at more than one Arthritis Walk. During the past year, she has been keynote speaker at the Juvenile Arthritis Family Education Day and the Arthritis Foundation Golf Classic, worked on the Foundation’s annual television campaign and served on the Arthritis Foundation’s Young Professionals Group in Georgia. On her blog she regularly urges readers to lobby lawmakers for arthritis support, cheer on fundraisers, and share health and beauty tips.

“When I say to a child with arthritis, ‘I know how you feel,’ they know I really do. I wouldn’t give that up.” Knowing what life can be – even with a chronic condition – is what propels this champion for arthritis to persevere.