All Eyes on Erika King, the 12-year-old Fighter for MDA

You may remember our interview back in January with Erika King, 101 Mobility®’s “Person to Watch.” She is the 12-year-old rock star who raised over $3,000 for the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) to fight muscular dystrophy. We recently caught up with Erika and, to no surprise, she continues to exceed fundraising goals and inspire those around her with her drive, motivation, and positive attitude.

The last time we talked, you had raised over $3,000 for the MDA. What have you been up to since?
I’ve raised more money for the MDA—I raised $1,700 actually in two or three months. I used social media to raise awareness with friends and family and I also sent letters in the mail to businesses around the country, telling them my goal and my message and asking for help. If the business was local, I would just walk in and talk to them. I talked to teachers, neighbors, and anyone who I thought could help.

Was there anything different this time or did it all run smoothly?
I actually thought I wouldn’t reach my goal of $1,500 at one point. I was only at $1,400 in the last week of fundraising. But then on the very last day of accepting donations we got a $100 check in the mail from a business in Kentucky, our hairdresser gave me $100 from her business, and another business gave me $80. I went from being under my goal to exceeding it on the very last day. My mom and I were so happy and shocked!

Can you recall a specific time where you felt like your hard fundraising work paid off?
Yeah–I was watching some videos of the kids at the MDA camp with my mom and it was so cool to watch them. They were so happy and excited to be there and it made me feel like our fundraising money was going to a good place. To see their reactions and knowing that I was part of making it happen makes me want to work harder.

I’ve also been speaking about muscular dystrophy and the MDA at my brother’s elementary school. Every Monday, the whole school gathers in the gym to discuss what’s going on that week. I spoke to the school body and showed them videos of the MDA camp and also a presentation on where the money I collected was going. I had never been asked to do something like that before, but  I was really excited to visit and talk to the students and teachers. The school’s staff knew my goal of spreading awareness because I used to go there. They were happy to have me speak to the students, teachers, and parents about the MDA. They asked my mom and when my mom asked me what I thought, I immediately said yes.

Have you reached out to anyone in your community specifically?
Our local MDA asked me to stop by a local business here in Jacksonville, NC. because it was the first time they had donated to the MDA. I went to show my support and told them they were doing a great job. I wanted to show them some encouragement!

What would you say to someone who is nervous or scared about taking the first step to help their community?
Well, really you can’t think about it too much because then you over-think it and you make it much worse than it has to be. Just… pluck up the courage. It doesn’t even have to be a lot of courage, even a tiny bit of courage can help you go up to someone and say, “Hey, do you have $1 that you want to donate to this organization or cause?” It doesn’t have to be the MDA, it can be any organization.

Have you taken on any new projects (last time we talked about diabetes)?
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to focus much attention on my goal to collect money and raise awareness for diabetes, but I still want to do it. It is still a goal for this year.

Do you still want to be a petroleum geologist?
(Laughs) Yes, I do. It’s just so cool!

Is there anything else you want to add for people that fight for a cause?
Just… don’t give up. Collections may seem really, really slow at first, and things like speaking in front of people can be really difficult, but the more you practice, these things become easier. You can get used to it, especially if you’re doing it every year.

>>>We got to talk to Erika’s mom, Nancy Ann, about her daughter’s recent achievements.

What is it like watching Erika accomplish all of these high-bar goals she’s set for herself?
I have to say that, looking back at myself at her age, I had no idea what could be accomplished at 12 or 13 years old. My brother had muscular dystrophy, and we were all battling it with him, but did I think that I could do something about it at that age? No, I didn’t. When Erika came to me in 5th grade and told me that she wanted to do this, I didn’t know where to get started. I went online and found businesses that supported the MDA and connected with them. I found our local MDA on the Coastal Carolinas and got in touch with the supporters there. I must say that the women who work there are absolutely phenomenal. They raise Erika up and encourage her every way they can. They push her to succeed.

Erika has the goals and the determination, and so do I. If Erika sets any goal, I’m going to do my best to make sure that they come very close to accomplishing or completely accomplish that goal. In her case, she exceeded it. She exceeded it at the very last minute when I was getting ready to sit her down and tell her that I didn’t think we were going to hit our goal. I’m very proud of her. I’m one of those loudmouth moms, that everyone knows which kids are mine, because of the amazing things they can do. This entire thing blows me away.

Thank you to all of the families, friends, and business that helped Erika exceed her fundraising goal:  Alex and Allison Pelletier, Ed Blake Jr., Misty Heldreth and June Beckett, Michelle Wicker, Kylena Brown and family, Tracy Leary and family, Tammy Ray and family, Carrie Schultz and family, Darci Hodnefield, Penny and Roger Smith, Rebecca and Jason Sykes, Pam Bush, Tammy Hardin and Tri-State Animal Clinic, Louisa KY, Julie Tackett, Susan Johnson, Jim and Sherri Sides, Susan Walsh, Michelle Applequist and family, Jamie Beach, Doris Williamson and family, Wendy Craig, Dot and Fred Thiele, Jess Mullen and family, Rhonda and Lawrence Cole, Susanne Long, Wendy and Charlie Clements, Debbie and David Everhart, Jenna Everhart, Tracy and Ronnie Lippard, Norma and Franklin King, Lois Meadows, Coastal Carolina Orthodontic (Smilemakers) Dr. Fischer, Adrianne Huls and family, Barbara Edwards, Jennifer Cunningham and family, Katie Snell and family, Debora Morey and family, and Erika and Grant King.

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.