Erica Wilson

“I was always told everything happened for a reason. It took me years to comprehend that I am exactly where I am in my life now because of my own efforts and the love and support from those such as the Swim with Mike Foundation. Life is all about taking challenges in stride and turning them into opportunities. I am able to achieve my dream of attending Duke because of the Ripple Effect SWM has created that has eventually lead to supporting my education. I am proud to represent SWM and be a small, but integral part of the Ripple Effect.”

A normal twelve-year-old girl goes from competitive dance and playing games with her friends to being paralyzed from the waist down in span of 30 minutes time. The diagnosis was Transverse Myelitis. Erica couldn’t understand it and she certainly couldn’t pronounce it. She frustrated the Children’s Hospital staff as they tried to teach her how to use the wheelchair. She gave the worst time to the Occupational Therapist who looked her in the eye and reaffirmed that while her tears were valid, her life was not over. The OT made a lifelong impact on Erica because she listened and taught her how to adapt to her new lifestyle. Erica went on to complete her Bachelors degree at the University of Illinois where she was a star on the wheelchair basketball team. Wheelchair basketball taught her to be more disciplined, responsible, and adaptable in any situation, all skills that will serve her well as she pursues her lifelong dream of becoming an Occupational Therapist. At Duke, fieldwork for her doctorate studies has taken her to Charlotte, NC and Providence, RI and she recently completed research in Richmond, VA.

Erica loves spending time with her friends, family and her cat Winx, and graduated with her doctorate in spring 2024.