How a Cedar Cliff Sophomore Defeated the Odds and is Inspiring Others to do the Same

At birth, it was predicted that Sam Erikson would never walk or talk. Born thirteen weeks early, Sam’s prognosis was bleak, but his recovery has been full of wonder and amazement. Although, Sam believes he’s not defined by this miracle, he uses his story to encourage other children like him. 

It’s been a long road to achieve what some might call  “a normal childhood” for Sam. He’s faced many adversities. He recalls, “I was literally allergic to everything which made lunch always a struggle. I also had to go through hours of physical therapy to help with my cerebral palsy and other conditions. Through middle school, I was super self conscious because of my shortness. I had to learn how to overcome this, both mentally and physically.”

As years passed, Sam’s list of allergies and medical conditions shortened, and he began participating in sports. In fact, martial arts helped his problems immensely. In regards to Sam’s height, his growth exceeded doctors’ expectations. 

Sam attributes his success to, “Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) at Penn State Hospital, Hershey Bears personal trainer and Penn State Hospital physical therapist Dr. Bob Kelly, Messiah Basketball, and God.”

With this help, almost ironically, Sam has not only avoided his seeming fate of paralyzation, but he’s actually dedicated much of his time to music and sports. He’s also heavily involved with CMN and often speaks on radio station 105.7 the X. He says through his on air interviews, he likes to showcase his unique personality even if “it doesn’t fit into society’s norm”. 

Through his time on the radio, Sam has fallen in love with music, specifically songwriting. Sam likes his songs to reflect a universal theme with depth, soul, and pop all mixed into one. He said, “I also add personal details into my songs. I hope others can perhaps take comfort in knowing they are not the only ones experiencing certain things.”

The radio hosts of 105.7 have been nothing but supportive of Sam’s exploration of music. They even hope to play his songs on their station in the near future. Through all of this, Sam is giving back to CMN which he says “has given him so much”.

On top of music, Sam loves basketball, thanks partly to Dr. Bob Kelly. Dr. Kelly has been working with Sam since sixth grade. It was Dr. Kelly who helped Sam work to accomplish his new dream, playing for Messiah College. CMN gave Sam the opportunity to work with the men's basketball team during his freshman year of high school. The team instantly became a second family. The team and Sam often pray for one another, hangout together, and push each other to be their best selves. With Dr. Kelly and CMN’s help, the dream of playing basketball in college might someday become a reality for Sam!

Despite Sam’s dramatic entrance into the world, he has been able to do and accomplish so many amazing things. Sam leaves people with disabilities this quote,  “You are able to become more than your disability. Just look at me playing basketball and being a second degree black belt. I wouldn't be able to do that stuff if you were just categorizing me by my cerebral palsy.” All in all, Sam hopes kids like him love themselves for who they are, and not for what the outside world sees. 

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