Person to Watch in 2014: Erika King, 12-year-old Conqueror
Erika King is a 12-year-old on a mission. In a year’s time, she raised over $3,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and became a role model in her community. Below, Erika shares her thoughts on the MDA, petroleum geology, and her plans for the future.
I didn’t expect it to get this far. I didn’t think that everyone would take it this far and show this much interest. It’s a great feeling to share something that’s so important to me with everyone else.
Why did you choose the MDA?
In elementary school, I was vice president of our special elementary honors society. I wanted to do some kind of project with muscular dystrophy because my uncle died from it. I began spreading the word and raising money at my school.
What are your thoughts about muscular dystrophy?
I think that disease in general is pretty terrible, and the fact that people are living with it is even more awful. It’s affecting kids. I want those kids to have fun like me and go to camp like me.
Why do you think it’s important to get involved with your community?
Well, I mean, it’s my community, and I’m going to live in it, so why not make it better? If I help raise a bunch of money, I help make a bunch of people happy. I want to make life better for people.
What is something you want to accomplish in 2014?
I want to raise more money for the MDA, definitely. I would like to start auctioning off my paintings as a different way to raise money. If that goes well, then I’ll be painting a lot more. I also want to start raising money for the American Diabetes Association. My dad has diabetes, so I plan to get involved with that next year.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
This is going to sound really weird. I want to be a petroleum geologist. My science teacher in fifth grade inspired that interest in me. Then, my dad found a website that said a petroleum geologist was one of the top ten pleasing jobs. After reading the description, I said, “That’s what I want to do.”
What would you say to other kids your age about finding that thing they believe in and going for it?
Well, you have to go for it. You set a goal. Use the support from your family and friends to succeed. Even if you don’t see progress, never give up. Use your resources the way that you know they were made to be used and power through it.
Do you have a message for people reading your story?
Yes. With help from everyone, we can continue to raise money for muscular dystrophy research and help people with the disease. We can work together to raise money and help families in need.
>>> We also got to talk to Erika’s mom, Nancy King, about her daughter’s raw determination.
What are your thoughts about Erika’s past efforts, and what do you see her accomplishing this year?
Honestly, I can’t imagine where she’s going to go in 2014. She’s an excellent student and person. She sets her mind to something and accomplishes it. In school, her band teacher came to her and said, “I need an oboe player. It’s a really hard instrument to play, but I think you can do it.” And now Erika plays the oboe. She looks at things in the way of “you might think it’s difficult, but I’m not giving up until I do it.” She really does work very hard for everything she achieves.
When did you first witness Erika’s powerful determination?
I would say when she was in third grade. She set a goal that she was going to get all A’s and be on the Principal’s List for the entire nine weeks of the school year. In third grade, she missed it by one B. She didn’t give up. In fourth grade, she missed it by one B again. She still didn’t give up. In fifth grade, she received all A’s and the Principal’s Medal. It’s always a priority for her to accomplish her goals.
How did fundraising work?
With the help of her elementary school, Erika raised $1,500. When she changed schools to attend sixth grade, she decided to continue raising money without her new school’s help. We didn’t know how it was going to go, but the money just kept coming in. Erika would just walk into offices and tell companies what she was trying to do, and they wanted to help. It was definitely based on face-to-face conversations and opportunities. When we realized that she had raised over $3,000, it completely exceeded our expectations.
Check back for more blog posts about Erika’s progress throughout 2014!
About Muscular Dystrophy Association
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is a voluntary national health agency — a dedicated partnership between scientists and concerned citizens aimed at conquering neuromuscular diseases that affect more than a million Americans.