(MIAMI, FL)- A self described happy kid, 15-year-old Erik gives a lot of credit to his five best friends for his contentment. “They treat me like a normal person, not like a kid in a wheelchair,” he said. And Erik, who was born with spina bifida, knows what it’s like to be treated differently. He has spent his entire life either using a walker or in a wheelchair, has been in and out of hospitals, and has a shunt in his head to drain the excess fluid from his brain. Though teens can often be cruel to those who are dissimilar, Erik feels his friends help him through the tough times. “My friends just mean so much to me,” said this talkative teen. “They’re always there for me.”
With an active support system, Erik does his best to be just like other kids. He plays tennis in his wheelchair, likes to swim, and absolutely loves music, especially anything by Britney Spears. “I’ve been following her music since she began,” said Erik of Spears. So it was no surprise that when Kids Wish Network asked him what he wanted for a wish, he said he wanted to meet this superstar. Erik was referred to the organization that grants wishes for children with life threatening illnesses by his hospital social worker and soon Wish Coordinator Madeline Robinson was in charge of all his dream plans.
Madeline began brainstorming and came up with a unique idea for Erik when she learned that Britney Spears would be making an appearance on MTV’s hit show, TRL. She called her friends at MTV to see if she could put her idea into action. They gave the OK, so she then contacted Spears’ office for approval. With everything set, she called Erik with the good news that he and his family would be flying to New York City for a meet and greet with the young pop star on the set of TRL!
“I started crying when I first saw Britney, when she first came on stage,” said Erik, who had a front row seat for the live broadcast. Erik enjoyed watching her on the show, but his real wish came true during a commercial break when he was whisked backstage to meet her in person. “She was nice to me and told me she thought I was a great fan,” Erik said. “I was star struck at first, my lips and legs were shaking I was so nervous. I told her that I had all of her albums and that I was her #1 fan.” This teen got an autographed photo of his idol and took a picture with her as well. “It was just great!” he said. While on the set, Erik also met rap superstar P. Diddy, who spoke with him and gave him a shirt. “I was in shock when I met him, I didn’t say much,” said this mesmerized fan.
Madeline had also arranged for Erik to tour the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, as well as dine at unique restaurants and ride in limousines. He enjoyed everything New York had to offer, but Britney Spears was the ultimate attraction. “She is so down to earth and such a cool person,” he said. “I’m so happy I went to New York to meet Britney.” This young man does regret that his best buddies couldn’t be there to share the experience with him. “I missed them while I was there,” Erik said thoughtfully. As these friends have always lent him support in every way, Erik will probably find them right by his side no matter what comes his way in the future. Perhaps they will even be standing next to him in line as he keeps his promise to Britney and is the very first person to buy her new CD upon its release.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the gracious sponsors who made Erik’s dream date with Britney come true: The Britney Spears Foundation, MTV, The Muse, CityLine Limousine, Madison Avenue Limousine, Planet Hollywood, Mars 2112, the Statue of Liberty, and Grayline of New York.