Eric Erdman has overcome a lot.
“When I was born, I was one pound and 15 ounces,” he said. “At the time of my birth, I had five major operations. I had a twin brother, Kyle, he passed away on the exact day that I was born.”
At 17 years old, life hasn’t been easy for him.
“I was the victim of child abuse,” Eric said.
One hard hit after another and then, something even worse. A rare brain cancer diagnosis.
“That’s when my life changed,” Erdman said. “I think for the good, but some people may disagree.”
Eric’s aunt, Angelo Cope Ruch can barely talk about her nephew’s diagnosis. She knows what it’s like to beat the odds. She and her sister were the first twins to ever compete in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, formerly known as the Nationwide Series.
“It’s so sad. It breaks my heart talking about it,” Ruch said. “He’s such a strong individual.”
Now, she’s helping Eric turn his pain into his purpose. She’ll be heading back to the track this weekend for the Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, all to raise money for Eric’s T.E.K. Foundation, which gives a voice to children impacted by abuse, bullying, and life-threatening illnesses.
“I’m so proud to be supporting such a great cause,” she said.
For Eric, the kids offer a good distraction from his own troubles.
“They’re my inspiration,” he said, explaining that for any other kids who feel hopeless, it’s important to remember it’s not their fault.
Eric has tried radiation and has had two surgeries in an attempt to remove his brain tumor. Doctors say there’s nothing else they can do, but Eric isn’t focusing on that.
“Life is awesome to live,” Eric said. “I don’t think about what the diagnosis will do to me. I just keep looking forward, I just think there’s so much more out there than being sad.”