Everyday Heroes

20-Year-Old With Terminal Cancer Donates New Gym To High School

He's making a difference while he still has time – and inspiring others in the process.

When students at Life School Oak Cliff filed into their school's auditorium last Thursday, they weren't sure what was going on.

After they were seated, the students were joined by a familiar face via a video conference call. It was Eric Erdman, a guest speaker from Millersburg, PA who had visited the school in January to take a tour and talk to the students about a topic he knows a lot about: perseverance.

Erdman was diagnosed with a terminal form of brain cancer in 2016. When the Make-A-Wish foundation contacted him and invited him to choose a "wish," he decided to use the opportunity to help others.

Give a Child a Voice/Facebook

Instead of taking a trip to Disney World like lots of other kids, Erdman started a charity organization called Give a Child a Voice to encourage children to speak out when faced with hard circumstances. Erdman hopes that by empowering young people to have a voice, he can help put an end to bullying, child abuse and life-threatening childhood illnesses.

"We must raise our voices to help the many boys and girls who are suffering in silence today, so they may become the author of their story, like I have become the author of mine," Erdman says on the Give a Child a Voice website.

Give a Child a Voice/Facebook

When Erdman was in high school, he was a victim of bullying and child abuse. He often found comfort in going to his school's gym. With his foundation, Erdman was able to remodel his own school's fitness center to provide other students with a safe space to build their physical and mental strength.

He loved the project so much that he decided to hold a giveaway. He invited schools all over the country to send videos and photos explaining why they should get a new fitness center. After going through dozens of submissions, Erdman made his decision.

Erdman paid to remodel his own high school's fitness center. Give a Child a Voice/Facebook

When Erdman announced that Life High School Oak Cliff was the winner of the contest, the students jumped from their seats and cheered.

They rushed to hug their teacher, Megan Stinson, who nominated the school.

Students at Life High School Oak Cliff were overjoyed when they heard they won the contest. Give a Child a Voice/Facebook

"We've had caregivers pass away, we've also had three students of our own that have unfortunately passed away prior to graduation," Stinson told CBS-11.

While Erdman says that all of the schools who applied for the contest were deserving, he thought that Life High School would benefit the most.

The school has suffered the loss of a handful of students over the past few years due to suicide and violence. Their weight room is small and cramped, and they compensate for not having a gym by using a building across the street for school assemblies.

"These are definitely my babies," Stinson said after the announcement. "I'm so excited for what it means for these kids."

As for the students, it seems that Erdman's message is already catching on.

"It teaches us to not forget where we came from and give back to our community," Senior Jessika Howard said after she found out her school won the contest. "To always remember that we can always make an impact big or small, and that is what Eric showed us today.

How can you start something good?

Inspired by Eric Erdman's' incredible act of kindness?

There are many ways to get involved with Give a Child a Voice.

You can donate to the organization's GoFundMe page by clicking here. If you're interested in doubling your donation as part of an employee match program, click here for more info.

To learn about volunteer opportunities, click here.

Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

The Conversation
More stories you may love

How Saving A Church Is Saving Lives Too

A couple bought an abandoned church and turned it into a community center. What they've created is so much bigger.

They're Saluting Our Veterans Every Day of the Year

Meet the Pittsburghers who are making sure our returning vets have jobs, homes and food, and find out how you can help.

How Goats And The Volunteers Who Love Them Are Saving A Popular Park

They're keeping invasive plants from taking over Pittsburgh's Frick Park by doing what comes naturally. For the goats at least!

Our Mission
Have you ever felt like there's just too much bad news? Ever felt like the world is hopeless, and you're helpless to do anything about it? We did too. That's why we created Sparkt™.
At Sparkt™, we tell powerful stories about great people making a difference in their communities, and we show you how you can make a difference too. Join us, and together, let's #StartSomethingGood!
Sparkt Newsletter
Get positive, uplifting stories in your inbox
Follow Us on Social Media
Download the Mobile App
Sparkt™ is a Rabble Holdings, Inc. Media Brand. © 2020 Rabble Holdings, Inc. All Rights Reserved.