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Alum Trains for Iron Man and Paralympics

Katelyn Cortes, April 2, 2009
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erica_davis.jpg

"My job is just to be an athlete," said Erica Davis, a 2004 Pacific Union College graduate. And an athlete she is. Erica's time is almost completely devoted to her love of sports. She is persistent when it comes to her goals. 

In March, Erica spoke at PUC for an all-school colloquy, wheeling herself onto the stage to share with students the story of her life as an athlete, including the drastic change that landed her in a wheelchair a few years ago.

Her journey began at Lodi Academy. Erica played every sport Lodi Academy had to offer, her favorites being softball and football. Her senior year of high school she scored 48 touchdowns during the season.

PUC was the next step in her life, a logical decision for a young woman whose parents had both graduated from its campus. Her major of choice was physical education, something she had wanted to do since she was in third grade. "You change your major five times, but I just always wanted to do P.E.," she declared. "It was an easy choice." She actively participated in intramurals and helped run them. "My teachers were good mentors," she noted.

In 2005, Erica's life changed. A rare condition left her paralyzed from the waist down, and her goals shifted. She refused to let her condition alter her positive attitude. She and her mother left Northern California for Carlsbad in Southern California, and Erica began training in order to keep herself in top physical condition.

She trains four times a week, spending an hour on weight lifting and an hour working on her core and legs. "It's a long, slow progress," she explained. Erica is working towards the 2012 Paralympics in London, and although she knows there will be tough competition, she also knows that she must begin training now in order to do her best. She's also determined to complete the Ironman Triathlon world championships. In the meantime, she's done seven triathlons, six running races, and five cycling races and won all of them except one, in which she placed second.

Erica believes that PUC helped her become the person she is today, not to mention helped her get where she is today. "I've learned that you have to be patient and just trust in God and following wherever he is leading me," she stated. "People don't believe or understand that if I were given the choice to have my life without my injury, and just go on and teach, that I would choose being in a chair because it brought great opportunities."

She recalled a story of a time when she was loading her chair into the back of her truck, and a man stopped to offer help. She thanked him for his offer but explained that she was used to doing it. It is the smallest moments like that that have made everything worthwhile. "It's the little things in life," she asserted. "People always watch you. I am not used to that in a way, or being an inspiration just from doing little things, but that's what I love-going out in public and knowing you can touch a life. "

Erica's dream job is to work in a hospital with injured people and help them set up a program for what they need to do. "Life's not over," she would tell them. "You have a whole new chapter. You just have to have the right attitude in life. I always try to have a positive attitude."

Erica invites everyone to look at her website, http://www.helpericawalk.com, and read her story.