Before you watch Johnny’s interview with Erika Bogan, here’s what you should know about Erika…
Erika Bogan isn’t your typical beauty queen. A mother of three young daughters, she surfs, skateboards, parasails, skydives, bungee-jumps, and more, filling this self-described “adrenaline junkie’s” life with activities reserved for extreme thrill-seekers. Sometimes she even uses her wheelchair.
It’s an admittedly active life for Ms. Wheelchair America 2010, a title she wouldn’t even have been qualified for had it not been for a tragic car accident in 2002 at the age of 21. But despite her circumstances, Erika lives each day to the fullest and redefines what it means to have a disability.
“My platform [as Ms. Wheelchair America 2010] was, ‘Anything’s Possible,’” she says. “I’m definitely very confident that throughout my years [since the accident] that I proved that statement to be true in more than one way. And I think that I also put a new meaning to the term, ‘confined to a wheelchair.’ I’m not confined to a wheelchair whatsoever, I just happen to be sitting in one.”
Erika admits, however, that the physical and mental recovery that brought her to a place today of contentment was a long time coming. After months in a coma following her accident, she faced nearly a year and a half of depression, anger, and frustration. But once she was able to find peace in her new reality, she says, she found a greater purpose in the circumstances that brought her there.
“I was injured because of domestic violence,” she reveals. “For me that was a really hard thing to swallow, in the beginning after my injury. And I said to myself, if I could touch one person’s life with my story, in any way, whether it’s giving them motivation, helping them get out of a situation, [or] whatever it is, then everything horrible that I went through is worthwhile.”
Today Erika motivates and inspires people all over the country, able-bodied and otherwise, with her active lifestyle, courageous story, and affable spirit. It’s more than offering encouragement, however. It’s living by example. By getting everything she can out of life, Erika offers hope to everyone who hears her story and helps motivate others to live their lives the same way that she does.
“I just think that no matter what, you just have to push the limits and live life to the fullest,” she says. “Anything is possible.”
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