Eric Goodman’s Story

Eric Goodman's Story

I was Forest Gump when I was a kid, physically. From the age of 3-5 I had leg braces like Forest. I can see him running down the driveway on the long county road. My childhood memories are different but this is how it started. By society standards, I was disabled.

Physical disabilities followed me through my life until I was 15 years old, when everything changed. I was diagnosed with Scheuermann’s Kyphosis. Which is according to Wikipedia is: “a skeletal disorder. The Vertebrae grow unevenly, causing kyphosis.” In layman’s terms “excessive convex of the spine” Most people have heard of scoliosis because they would check kids for it in elementary school. Scheuermann’s is similar but much more severe.

After I was diagnosed my parents were told that I would need to wear a back brace. We started to do research and make a plan for the care I needed. We went to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles to see a special orthopedic surgeon who ran test and referred us to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital for surgery immediately. My condition was putting pressure on my internal organs and without surgery I was not expected to live a full life. This news was devastating to me, my parents and my family.

I had a nine hour operation that included opening my entire back (550 stitches) to insert metal rods connected from my shoulder to my hips. Portions of my rib bones were fused with my vertebra to support my body. I was in ICU for 11 days and the hospital for 31 days. After the surgery I was in a body cast for nine months. I had to have physical therapy to learn how to walk again.

At the time, I did not think about business or how the world worked. My parents life was put on hold to care for me. My Dad who owned his own company while running it, would come to the hospital every morning and stay with me until my mom would arrive. She took a leave form work to stay with me for five months. When my dad would return in the evenings to see me again before going home to care for my younger sister. Our health insurance was going to be cancelled and my parents had to use all the funds they had to pay for my operation and save my life.

Looking back on this now, over 30 years later and retelling this story, I have learned two things. One, I think this experience gave me empathy towards others with disabilities and gave me compassion to help those in need. Two, I have devoted my life since to charities and my business supports developmental disabled adults and children with our services daily for the past 34 years.

Today I feel like Forrest Gump running down that driveway, the braces falling off and that setting the course for the rest of my life… Helping others, my purpose and the strength of my leadership and never giving up. I share my story to motivate others and stand up for people everywhere with disabilities. You never know who they are and how it will change their life.

You can read Eric’s bio here.


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