To The Most Courageous Woman I Know

This year has been a year of turmoil and also a year of blessings. Most years are like that, though this one has been particularly full of highs and lows. I wanted to take a moment to give a shout out to the most courageous woman I know.

My cousin, Erika Bogan was badly injured in a terrible car crash in early 2002 when she was ejected from the vehicle, suffered major damage to her spinal cord and was in a coma for 10 weeks. When she woke up, she found she was paralyzed from the waist down. Imagine for a moment, what it would be like to be riding in a car one second, awake in a hospital the next second to be told 10 weeks had gone by, and by the way, you'll never walk again.

Erika had a long road ahead of her. She had a lot of choices to make and none of them were easy. You can read more on her story on her blog.

Erika became an advocate for people with disabilities and became active helping and inspiring others. This year, Erika competed for and won the Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina 2009 title. She then competed against tough competition to win Ms. Wheelchair America 2009 title. We are all very proud of her.

The mission of Ms. Wheelchair America is to provide an opportunity for women of achievement who happen to be wheelchair users to successfully educate and advocate for the more than 52 million Americans living with disabilities. In her short term as Ms. Wheelchair America, she's:

  • Served as Participant, Mentor and Speaker at Camp Discovery
  • Learned to Surf, through Life Rolls On (Yay for surfing)
  • Honored as Guest speaker for the Real Economic Impact Tour Kick-off on behalf of the IRS and the NDI along with Robert David Hall from CSI, at the National Press Club in D.C.
  • Visited the White House

As we roll (pun intended) into the Thanksgiving holiday, I'd like to pause and give thanks to Erika for her inspiration to me and to the many people she's impacted with her life.

If you are interested in learning more about Erika, the Ms. Wheelchair America competition or advocacy for the disabled, you can:

Erika Crowned Ms. Wheelchair America

Erika Before Speaking to the IRS and the NDI

Erika with CSI's Robert David Hall

"Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew." -Guillaume Apollinaire

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10/30/09 4:54 PM # Posted By Mike Brunt

This is a truly amazing post Dan, off I go daily, walking 8 miles thinking, worrying, laughing sometimes crying and your cousin does not have that luxury that I take for granted. Please pass on my regards and best wishes to her.

11/27/09 2:28 AM # Posted By Tom Smith

She is so beautiful.