I am the oldest of three, with two ‘little’ brothers. ‘Little’, because now they could crush me if they wanted to, but in a way, I’ll still always be their big sister.
I’ve never longed for a sister, in part, because I am blessed to have such dear friends who have always filled that role for me beautifully.
But to be a woman and have a sister must be a beautiful thing; sharing secrets, dreams, frustrations, CLOTHES. To have their support when you need them most, and to help you fly even higher when you soar.
The young woman you’re about to meet has shared a bond with her twin sister since the moment they arrived in the world, a journey now inspiring her individually as one of the state’s most outstanding teenagers.
MISS KEARNEY CRANE FESTIVAL’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 MERRILEE PRILL
“I was born at Children’s Hospital in Omaha as a micro preemie weighing in at 1 pound 7 ounces and I had a 10-percent chance of survival!” Merrilee told me recently. “At 2 years old, [my twin sister and I] were featured on the Children’s Miracle Network telethon. So, I am Children’s Miracle Network!”
Merrilee and her sister, Mariclaire, spent four months in the hospital as newborns. Many deemed them miracle babies since they later only underwent surgery for ear tubes and had no other developmental problems. This personal story inspired Merrilee’s platform of service ‘Believe the Impossible: Miracles Happen.’
“Because I have experienced this miracle in my own life, I want to inspire others to believe that miracles can happen in their own lives no matter what the circumstances,” said Merrilee. “This piece of the Miss Nebraska system holds a very special place in my heart!”
One piece of many for not just Merrilee, but the entire Prill family.
Merrilee’s big sister, Lianna, was Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2012, and just last year, competed for the title of Miss Nebraska (click here to read my profile of Lianna during her time as Miss Crane Festival 2014). Merrilee’s twin, Mariclaire, was Miss Sandhills’ Outstanding Teen 2013.
“I first got involved in the Miss Nebraska program because my sisters were titleholders,” said Merrilee. “I experienced challenges while competing for [local titles]. Consequently, winning did not come as quickly for me as it did for my sisters. Now as I come to the close of my reign as Miss Kearney Crane Festival’s Outstanding Teen, I have been able to sharpen my public speaking and stage presence skills. These parts of the competition used to terrify me. Now, I comfortably speak to a crowd of insurance professionals as a keynote speaker, address a crowd of community members at an outdoor festival and convey encouragements to patients at Children’s Hospital.”
And those visits to Children’s are among Merrilee’s favorite moments as Miss Kearney Crane Festival’s OT.
“My signature project for this program has been decorating over 400 colorful place mats for patient meal trays,” said Merrilee. “Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces during craft hours just makes my job as a titleholder so gratifying because that makes me feel like I am making an impact by encouraging them that miracles can happen in their lives as it did in mine.”
Among Merrilee’s other top memories this past year include signing nearly 400 autographs for the annual Daddy-Daughter Banquet in Kearney and spending time with her sister queen Miss Kearney Crane Festival 2015 Allison Tietjen (click here to to learn more about Allison!).
“I know the importance of being a positive local role model for young girls,” said Merrilee. “It was a bonus during my year to share this event and many others with Allison!”
Merrilee is also looking forward to connecting with a few other ‘sisters’.. her fellow outstanding teens from across the state. She sent me this picture, taken the last time many of these girls were together, at the Crowns and Gowns weekend in North Platte.
Merrilee striking a pose with Miss Douglas County’s OT 2015 Steffany Lien and Miss Scotts Bluff County’s OT Grace Heggem.
A year’s worth of moments and memories, all leading up to one amazing night. So many ‘sisters’, biological or otherwise, that will no doubt be in Merrilee Prill’s mind and heart during those moments she takes the stage alone in North Platte.
“I have to say that walking in my evening gown is the most fulfilling part of the competition for me, because that’s the point when I feel the most confident and I feel like I’m on top of the world,” said Merilee. “Very few teenagers get to do this on such an awesome stage!”
Only 11, in fact, this year. And of those outstanding girls, one will be crowned Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen. Will it be Merrilee Prill? Just ask the once 1.5 pound miracle who defied all odds at birth; ANYTHING is possible.
Follow Miss Kearney Crane Festival’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Merrilee Prill on Instagram.
To contact Merrilee for appearances and events, visit the Miss Kearney/Miss Tri-Cities Pageant on Facebook.
For more information about how to become a contestant, email Director Megan Goeke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte. Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.
To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.