2019 Walk to Cure Arthritis Honorees


Dr. Frank Buttacavoli
Medical Honoree

Dr. Frank Buttacavoli grew up in Miami Beach, Florida but had his first exposure to Texas when he attended Rice University on a golf scholarship. After completing his degree in Economics, he returned home to the University of Miami for Medical School. He was very fortunate to match for orthopaedic residency at UT Health San Antonio. During this time, he developed his specific interests within hip and knee reconstruction. After his residency, he completed his fellowship training in adult hip and knee reconstruction at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. After his fellowship in Boston, he traveled to Switzerland for additional training in hip reconstruction at Balgrist Hospital.

Upon returning from Switzerland, he decided to enter into a private practice in Miami. This past October, after 2 years in Miami, he returned as staff to the same department where I once was a resident. 

His specific interests include hip and knee replacements as well as revisions of failed replacements. His clinical interest in improving long term patient outcomes within these procedures, and cost containment for future health care models without sacrificing patient satisfaction and outcomes. He joined UT health San Antonio because he knew this would be the best place for me to make a lasting impact on the future of patient care. 

Outside of his work in the clinic and hospital, he enjoys traveling with his wife, spending time with each of their families, and playing golf on the amateur circuit. He looks forward to a long career caring for patients and teaching future orthopaedic surgeons at UT Health San Antonio.

Sarah Merriman
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Adult Honoree

Sarah is a lovely, kind, funny, strong woman with resilience that so many strive for. Soon after her birth, she began to have small febrile seizures. She cried much more than normal and seemed to never fully calm down and be soothed. Pediatricians couldn’t explain her irritability. She didn’t move as easily as other babies and stayed on the laps of the adults she loved, rather than attempt crawling which made her knees swell. Specialist after specialist. Painful diagnoses. Hours and hours in waiting rooms. And more than 7 incorrect diagnosis’s before Sarah would be diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. She was 18 months old. And so, Sarah’s new life began. Instead of fevers and rashes, she now received twice weekly IV infusions with steroids and strong anti-inflammatory medications. And yet Sarah thrived. She grew and started school. She made friends and had a funny, easy going demeanor - even though she was never without pain. As the arthritis progressed, Sarah’s joints began to deteriorate. Her fingers and toes were affected first and began to curl and atrophy. Sarah has a great life married by constant pain. Her life was never completely hers.

Through all her transformations Sarah fell in love with Vince and will celebrate 10 years of marriage.  Her Military husband carries her when she has flares and can’t walk. Their marriage continues to grow. Most recently he was deployed this past year and Sarah ran the household proudly on her own. July of 2014, she gave birth to identical baby girls, Harper and Tarynn AND are expecting a baby boy in April! Sarah’s life has been blessed. She has recently finished Real Estate school. Along with Sarah’s family and friends, today we celebrate her loving spirit, her courage, and most of all, her life.

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