donate icon DONATE

Kerrigan Is a Competitor

Her drive to win led to a life-changing diagnosis.

Kerrigan is a competitor. She knows that to be true, down deep in her bones.

That competitive nature is, in fact, how she became a patient of Shriners Children’s St. Louis. She was playing basketball during her freshmen year of high school when a ball was loose on the hardwood. She went after the ball aggressively. However, at that same moment, so did an opponent. Kerrigan was pushed down onto the court and felt her back "pop."

After the game, Kerrigan laid down to stretch and realized she was stuck. An emergency room visit offered what would become a misdiagnosis that led to a year and a half of misguided physical therapy. Her condition worsened.

On her worse days, Kerrigan couldn’t even get out of bed.

Eventually, Kerrigan was diagnosed with scoliosis, spondylolisthesis and pars defect of the spine (stress fracture of L3/L4/L5 vertebrae).

That’s when she landed 650 miles from her hometown of Goodland, Kansas, at Shriners Children’s St. Louis. It was an experience that changed her life, and her heart. “I saw kids missing limbs smiling and laughing all over the place. These kids were facing more than I ever had or ever would,” said Kerrigan.

Spine specialist Michael Kelly, M.D., confirmed her diagnosis and she was quickly fitted for her new back brace, which she cleverly named BOB. For years, she wore “BOB” for four hours a day.

Thanks to that treatment plan, one fracture is completely healed today. The other two fractures will require surgical intervention. Kerrigan will have to decide, in the future, if she wants to undergo surgery. “I still live with pain every day. However, the pain is nowhere near the level I was dealing with,” she said.

A thank you is never enough for what the Shriners Hospital for Children did for me.
Kerrigan, St. Louis

She is thankful and eager to give back. Every year, she sends gift cards to the hospital, to be used by patient families. Kerrigan also served as a Patient Ambassador at the Kansas Shrine Bowl, helping to host the “hospital experience.” It’s a way for football players, cheerleaders and marching band members who are involved in the event to make a connection to the Shriners Children’s mission.

“A thank you is never enough for what the Shriners Hospital for Children did for me,” said Kerrigan.

After high school, Kerrigan went on to play golf at Ft. Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. She had a successful three years with the team and will spend her senior year focusing on finishing her elementary education degree and student teaching requirements.

Her dream is to teach in her hometown (alongside her parents who are also educators) and coach high school golf.

Her Back Broke but Her Spirit Soared

Shriners Children's helped Kerrigan heal and minimize her pain.

kerrigan with her back brace

Kerrigan and her back brace that she named "BOB."

kerrigan swinging golf club

Kerrigan played golf for Fort Hays State University.

kerrigan in basketball uniform

Kerrigan broke her back playing high school basketball.

kerrigan with her golf bag

Her drive goes beyond the tee box.

Next Steps

Share Your Story

Our patients and families are at the heart of everything we do at Shriners Children's. We invite you to share how the team at Shriners Children's has helped your child.

Give to Shriners Children's

Through the generosity of donors like you, we've helped over one million children lead more fulfilling lives, regardless of their families' ability to pay.

Contact Us

Have a question or request? Need to make an appointment? We're here for you.