For 19 years, life has never been easy for Eric Erdman—born 25 weeks premature weighing only 2 pounds, growing up as a victim of bullying and child abuse, diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 16; then misery came at its peak as in July 2019, he was told he had a total of 19 tumors in his brain and was given only 6 months to live.
Yet, the teen refused to just sit around. He continues to work tirelessly for his organization, Give a Child a Voice, which he formed two years ago. The goal, through community programs and partnering with educators, was to help children who experience difficult situations receive the same kindness he received at one of the most vulnerable times of his life.
“I felt like I was on an island,” he said. “I bottled everything inside [when it came to the abuse and bullying]. But I’ve come to realize it’s more painful to be silent.”
When the Make A Wish foundation reached out for his wish, Eric chose not to get anything for himself. Instead, he asked to have two new gyms built (one at his high school and another at a rival school) because the gym was the one place he felt like he could go when he “needed an out” during tough times.
— Courtney Highfield (@CourtHighfield) August 3, 2017
Eric hopes those gyms, along with the foundation, will continue to empower children to speak out rather than suffer alone. He even hopes they will reach out to him directly if they need someone to talk to.
For the last months of his life, Eric wants nothing but to help more children “become the author of their own story,” as he did.
“I may not be able to control my illness or if my tumors grow. But I found my voice a few years ago, and now I am the author of my own story,” he told “Good Morning America.”