Our FounderEric Erdman's Story.
Eric Erdman's story is one of remarkable resilience and profound impact. Born prematurely at 25 weeks, weighing only 1lb 15oz, Eric began his life battling for survival. This early fight was a precursor to the numerous challenges he would face, including learning disabilities, which led to him being a victim of bullying and abuse at the age of 11. These experiences deeply affected him, causing him to become shy and introverted.
A turning point came after his family moved to Millersburg, PA, following his 13th birthday. Seeking solace and strength, Eric turned to his school's gym, training rigorously before and after school. This physical and mental transformation became his refuge, helping him to cope with the pain he carried silently.
At 16, Eric's life took a dramatic turn when he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain cancer, Anaplastic Grade III Ependymoma. Despite multiple brain surgeries, radiation sessions, and chemotherapy, medical interventions could no longer halt the progression of his cancer. Given only a few months to live, Eric, who had once been reserved and quiet, found his voice amidst this adversity. He was determined to use his remaining time to make a difference.
Eric's journey led to the creation of the T.E.K. Foundation, operating as Give a Child a Voice. The foundation's mission is to end child abuse, bullying, and life-threatening childhood illnesses by empowering children to find and use their voices. Eric's belief that "It is more painful to be silent than to break the silence" became a guiding principle for his foundation.
His unique perspective on life as a series of chapters in a book, with each individual as the author of their own story, inspired many. Eric's approach emphasized taking control and not allowing abusers, bullies, or illnesses to dictate one's narrative.
In 2016, when the Make-A-Wish Foundation approached Eric, he requested a wish that would benefit others: transforming the gym at his high school into a space where kids could build physical and mental strength and find their own voices. This project led to the creation of the Give a Child a Voice Fitness Center, a place for young people to escape their challenges and develop their best selves.
Eric's legacy is enshrined in the Voices of Tomorrow initiative. His life, shaped by substantial challenges, stands as a powerful testament to resilience, the critical importance of speaking out, and the profound impact an individual can have on countless lives. Through his struggles and triumphs, Eric's story continues to inspire and empower the next generation, echoing the strength and courage needed to face life's toughest battles.