Imagine that you are 21 years old. Possibly you’re well along in your college years. By now, maybe you have met your future mate, and you talk excitedly about the limitless possibilities of your future. You’re healthy, with no limitations. Your professional opportunities appear limitless. Then, shockingly. . .everything changes.
ERIKA BOGAN’S SUDDEN REVERSAL OF FORTUNE
That happened to Erika Bogan. She went from “having it all,” as we say, to almost losing everything. A terrible car crash in 2002 shattered her perfect world, ushering her into a coma that lasted two and a half months. Death—or at best a living state no one could want—seemed inevitable.
Emerging from her coma, young Erika recognized her plight instantly. Even now, she admits her initial emotions—fear, resentment, defeatism, even shame. However, with the encouragement of her physical therapist, she changed her mind set and consequently her life. She stopped considering herself a victim, and began thinking of herself as a victor.
ACHIEVING NATIONAL LEADERSHIP FOR WHEELCHAIR USERS
Not only did she adjust to her wheelchair, she chose to make it her platform for a winning message. That led to being chosen Ms Wheelchair North Carolina. While that crown remained almost new, Erika accepted a new one: Ms Wheelchair America, 2010.
ACTIVE PHYSICAL LIFE
Meanwhile, she resumed an active regimen of physical activity. Though paralyzed from the waist down, her spirit was free. She mastered surfing, parasailing, and playing vigorously on the wheelchair basketball team dubbed “Carolina Tarwheels.”
ERIKA’S WINNING WORDS
While her deeds reflect her heroic climb from the abyss of despair and disability, Erika’s words—shared in writing and with many audiences—echo the same vitality.
Referring to her life-altering accident, “It couldn’t have happened without a bigger purpose.” Looking back, she observes: “I thought at that moment my life was over, but it was just beginning.”
Capturing her outlook in one beautiful sentence, Erika says: “I have chosen to take one moment in my life that was once considered a tragedy, and make it the most positive moment in my life.”
The lesson for others? This: “Anyone can reach for their dreams, no matter their circumstances or physical limitations.” That coincides with a phrase she uses often: “Disabled bodies but able minds.”
CHILDREN’S NAMES MIRROR HER POSITIVE GRASP ON LIFE
By now, you will not be surprised by the middle names of her three daughters: Faith, Hope, and Grace.
ERIKA’S PROFESSIONAL LIFE
Now, eleven years since her injury, Erika is still pushing the limits. While still holding the title of Ms. Wheelchair America, Erika started as a spokesperson for Colours Wheelchair. She also became the Co-founder of Erikaslist.org, the “Craig’s List” for the disability community and one of five hosts on The Ability 411 weekly vlog on YouTube. In 2012, Erika started working for the former company, the Vehicle Production Group, (VPG) makers of the MV-1, the very first “Universally Accessible” purpose-built vehicle based out of Allen Park, Michigan. In 2013, Erika started working independently as a Marketing Consultant, specializing in social media and influence marketing.
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