I had the pleasure of meeting Eric earlier this year at an organizational function I attended for PossAbilities LLUC. This young man is special. Eric is no stranger to challenges, but what I most admire about him is his “CAN DO” attitude, regardless of the medical setbacks he faces. Eric inspires folks like me to never give up when we’re living with a disability. He exemplifies a positive mindset and outlook on life, and he entirely personifies the scripture which says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
Eric is a 31-year old resident of Grand Terrace CA, where he lives with his grandparents and older sister. He enjoys 5K mud running, studying martial arts, hiking, excursing, and collecting multi-functional objects, LED lights, and emergency tools. He also enjoys disaster preparedness work.
Eric is a member of Loma Linda PossAbilities, San Bernardino Rolling Start Inc. (a non -profit organization for people with disabilities), the Inland Empire Disabilities Collaborative, and the San Bernardino State Council for Developmental Disabilities. He has volunteered for the Redlands police department for the past 10 years. He has also volunteered for a disaster preparedness agency called CERT for the past eight years, and as Assistant Staff Officer for Diversity with the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary for four years. He’s a member of the Functional Assessment Service Team (FAST), as well as a disabilities advocate and instructor for Access and Functional Needs. He has a great ambition to inspire other people who have disabilities and also aspires to become a Disability Integration Advisor Lead, certified ADA Coordinator, and licensed interpreter for American Sign Language.
When Eric Aguilar was born prematurely at Redlands Community Hospital on November 12, 1988, he was diagnosed with a hemiplegic mild stage of cerebral palsy as well as gran mal and twilight seizures. Due to the conditions of his disability, doctors determined that Eric would never learn to walk or talk or even live past the age of six. He proved them wrong.
After years of overcoming so many obstacles and hardships, in December 2015 Eric was also diagnosed with stage one arthritis is his right hip joint. In 2019, he was diagnosed with hearing loss. Still, Eric doesn’t see himself as being disabled. He handles his conditions well, and has never let his disabilities stop him.
Eric has become a very well-known volunteer in the Redlands community; in 2008 he started off volunteering with the local Redlands Community Center, something he did for four years. He was recognized as Volunteer of the Month and then went on to join the Redlands Police Volunteer Patrol Unit in 2010. In 2013, he was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year. His achievements continued in 2014, when the Redlands Northside Impact Committee awarded him the well-deserved Volunteerism Award for his dedication in volunteering with Redlands PD. To date, he has contributed 5,000 hours of outstanding service.
In 2017, Eric was inducted into the Loma Linda PossAbilities Hall of Heroes for thriving through disability, giving back to his community, and leading by example. When he is not wearing his police uniform, Eric volunteers with another local organizations, one of which is a disaster preparedness agency within the Redlands Community Emergency Response Team, known as CERT.
Eric advocates for people with disabilities through the San Bernardino State Council for Developmental Disabilities and collaborates with the Inland Empire Autism Society. Today, Eric continues to serve the community of Redlands. He lives his dreams and inspires people—not in spite of, but because of his disability.