Meet Emily Sundermeier


Eleven-year-old Emily Sundermeier was having trouble sitting up straight. She would slump to one side and slouch. According to her mom Randi, who is a registered nurse, “One day, a lightbulb just went off.” Randi checked her daughter’s back and immediately saw a curve. She made an appointment with Emily’s pediatrician, who referred them to the orthopedic program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

At ACH, Emily was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. In fact, Emily had what’s called a “double S curve,” meaning her spine was curved in two places. 

Emily wore a back brace for the next four years. It was a difficult time for the young girl. She had to wear looser-fitting boys’ clothing to accommodate the brace. Randi says, “Emily was teased sometimes. But we talked to her school administration, and that eventually got better.”

When Emily was 15, her doctor installed metal rods and screws in her spine to straighten the top curve. He told Randi and Emily’s dad Roger that if they fixed top curve, the bottom curve would follow suit. And he was right.

Randi says, “Before her surgery, Emily had trouble walking, carrying things, sitting at her desk. She was in constant pain. Since her surgery, her back never hurts anymore! Arkansas Children’s Hospital gave my daughter her life back. She can just be a teenager now.”

Emily stays busy “just being a teenager.” She is involved in her school yearbook, FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and mock trials, where students study a court case and then stage a “trial,” competing with other schools. Emily’s first trial was last March, and she had a wonderful time.

But like all 16-year-olds, Emily is also looking toward the future. She has her driver’s permit and will take her driving test soon. She is considering colleges and plans to major in communications with a minor in marketing. 

For now, Emily is happy to be pain free. She mentors other kids at her school who have been diagnosed with scoliosis, helping them adjust and learn to cope with challenges she understands very well.

Emily and her parents are excited to be part of the ACH Ambassador program. Emily is looking forward to sharing her story to help other kids, and is eager to stretch her public speaking muscles to help prepare for college. 

Roger says, “As parents, Randi and I are excited to tell about the quality of care and the level of commitment from the entire staff at ACH. It’s a small way to say ‘thank you.’ ”

“We’re just glad we have the opportunity to give back,” says Randi. 


Donate in honor of Emily by visiting her fundraising page here. Until no child needs us, we need you.

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