(Okay, you’re absolutely going to think I’m making all of this up. But I swear, every word of it is 100% true.)
I grew up surrounded by a host of colorful characters …
I spent my childhood on county fair midways and race tracks all across the Midwest (my family business was racing horses). My mentors were carnies, pitchmen, gamblers, grifters, magicians, and fortune-tellers. I learned the art of the pitch and the fast talk … not to mention how to do more than a few classic cons and swindles. It was an AMAZING childhood.
And I’ve done some pretty amazing things …
- I’ve worked in radio and newspaper.
- I’ve been a horse trainer.
- I was a telemarketer (for a funeral home no less).
- I’ve been an advocate, an educator, and a speaker.
- I’ve been a professional magician.
- I even toured my own old-time medicine wagon show (that’s how I earned the nickname ‘Doc’).
It Reads Like Some Kind Of Adventure Story!
… like something out of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The difference is this is a true story.
And you’d never suspect I’d done so many different things by looking at me because …
I was also born with a disability …
… Cerebral Palsy. My mother was told I probably wouldn’t survive. (Spoiler, I did.)
Later, She was told I would never walk (I did that too … but I do have a pretty noticeable limp).
But because I grew up with a disability
People have always tried to tell me what THEY thought I couldn’t do.
I’m sure most of them meant well. They wanted to spare me the pain of inevitable failure.
I quickly realized I could do one of two things:
- I could listen to them and live in a very small world, or
- I could risk failure and maybe live in a much larger one.
I stopped listening to them.
And I failed … a LOT.
But not always.
As a result I’ve done the kinds of things many other people only dream of doing.
I learned an important lesson.
Whenever someone says, “that’s impossible,” what they’re really saying is they don’t know how to do something … and since they are the smartest person they know, there’s no way you could know how to do it … right?
But it wasn’t just me …
As I got older I realized I wasn’t the only person being told, “you can’t do that!”
People were being told what they could or couldn’t do because they were a different color … because of their gender … or because they chose to see their world differently.
That made me very angry.
I learned how to be an advocate for the things I needed.
My mom was an amazing advocate. She was a black belt in “institutional jujitsu.” I learned a lot from her. She fought for my education at a time when kids with disabilities didn’t go to a regular public school. She always said I was the first child with a disability mainstreamed in the state of Iowa.
And I got involved …
… with organizations like Easter Seals, Variety Club, Very Special Arts, and March of Dimes.
I became an advocate for system change.
I’ve served on state boards and commissions and coordinated efforts to fight employment discrimination against women, minorities and persons with disabilities. I’ve also worked as an advocate for children with disabilities in public schools.
Now I do private advocacy … when I’m not doing magic.
You can find out more about that at DiscoveringHeroes.com
So, basically …
The shows are what I do for me.
The advocacy is what I do for others.
Which is just another way of saying …
I get to do impossible things, and
I get to show people how they can do impossible things too.
Best. Job. Ever.
Erik “Doc” Anderson
TXT or PH: (636) 686-0861