Millersburg teen uses Make-A-Wish to give back to community


A local teenager battling cancer is using his diagnosis as a platform to help others. Several months into his battle with brain cancer Millersburg teen Eric Erdman was granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation and decided to use it to give back to his community.

Erdman’s obstacles started when he was just a baby. He and his twin brother were born too early and his twin passed away. After that Eric faced a number of health problems.

His mom, Rita Ruch, told CBS 21, “Eric had a life full of medical issues up until the age of 9 or 10. He's always handled them very well, however, it's been a journey.”

While the health problems took a break other obstacles popped up. Eric says he was physically abused from ages 11 to 13 and on top of that he was bullied.

Just when he thought he’d been through enough, Eric said, “Fast forward to the age of 16 that’s when I got diagnosed with a grade 3 anaplastic brain tumor.”

Grade 3 is the highest there is for that specific type of brain cancer. But Eric is a fighter.

“I was shocked at first but then I was like, alright let’s do it,” said Erdman.

He says there wasn’t a moment where he thought about giving up.

“You either can go two ways with this: be sad and miserable and no one would blame you because it’s the diagnosis you have or you can try to be happy and affect other people.”

When things got tough for Eric the gym was a safe haven. In a matter of months he gained 40 pounds of muscle and he gained confidence.

“I got up around 6 and was over there by 630 and I lifted two times a day so morning and afternoon and it was fun, it was a second home,” said Erdman.

So when he was approached by Make-A-Wish he knew exactly what he wanted. Even though he couldn’t work out anymore due to the cancer and his treatments he asked them to help him build a brand new gym at his high school.

His mom remarked, “I said can't we just go on vacation and his brother said can't we just go to Disney?”

But Eric didn’t want that. He wanted to use his wish to help others. Poole Anderson got word of the wish and their company along with Make-A-Wish, several local companies and contractors, and dozens of community members, made that dream come true.

The equipment hasn’t been brought in yet but Thursday morning Eric got to nail in the last board of the Donor Wall which will be used to display the names of people who have helped.

Eric’s battle is a long way from over. The first form of treatment didn’t work and they’re still waiting to hear if the second form was successful.

“We just need this to work,” said Ruch.

Either way Eric says everything will be okay.

“I came to realize this diagnosis may end me one day and I'm fine with that so whatever happens, happens,” said Erdman.

For as long as he can Eric plans on using his voice to help others and if he leaves this one simple message behind, “Just don't give up, you're going to have your day and you're going to strive and overcome whatever you're facing,” he’ll consider that a success.

Eric has also started his own foundation called Give A Child A Voice to help further his dreams of helping people.

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