Eric Patrick Thomas
Eric Thomas, a young motivated, ambitious businessman, leads a busy life. As well as the leading force behind "EZ Awareness By Design", specializing in graphic design, custom apparel, signage, and vinyl banners, he is a public speaker, philanthropist, volunteer and advocate for the disabled. His keen business sense began before the early age of ten when he started renting his Nintendo video games in the neighborhood. Music has always been an influence in Eric’s life from writing to recording his album with the Hip Hop group “Mizcellaneous”. Appreciation and the love of music and photography eventually led Eric to Lansing Community College where he pursued a degree in photography and broadcasting after graduating from Clio High School in 1996.
A random shooting on the fateful night of September 20, 1997 changed Eric's life forever. A young man with dreams of a career in music or photography learned that life is not always fair. Left paralyzed from the neck down by a bullet to the C3 and C4 vertebrates; Eric spent several months on a ventilator with a halo screwed to his head to support his neck fighting for his life. Upon being released from the hospital Eric spent the next six months in rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado learning to cope with his new circumstances. Doctors recommended an assisted living center after leaving the hospital, but with the support of his family he made the transition from rehabilitation to his mother’s and stepfather’s home. Thanks to the hard work of his stepfather many changes and modifications were made to the home so that Eric could navigate throughout the structure.
With the support of Disability Network, a self-determination living arrangement (SDLA) was developed. Having a SDLA permitted Eric to hire his own staff and set goals and dreams using the person centered plan process, allowing Eric to live independently in his own environment.
Eric's portfolio resonates with a vast variety of activities from public speaking to managing his graphic design company. His list of charitable works involve everything from Toys for Tots, Relay for Life, Coats For Kids, Food Bank Of Eastern Michigan, American Heart Association, president for the Flint Film Festival, co-founder of Wheels 4 Wheels, local leader for Michigan Partners for Freedom and an ambassador for Danny’s Miracle Angel Network (D-Man).
Eric does not view his life as a burden but it’s an opportunity to help other individuals with disabilities. Some of the most rewarding moments of his life include testifying at both House and Senate hearings at the local, state, and national level, for the advancement of care and rights for people with disabilities. He believes in providing both financial means and access to affordable health care. These things will allow disabled individuals to live independently, and is a motivating factor that promotes his voice for those in need.
Eric is not content to simply let the world pass by. He is constantly planning new opportunities that will enrich not only his life but those less fortunate. Goodwill Industries has provided Eric with affordable space for his business EZ Awareness By Design. With the support of Genesee Health System, supportive employment, and a Self Determination Living Arrangement Eric is able to have his own house, own his own business, and access to quality of care that provides him with the independence to be responsible for his own destiny.
BOOM Awards celebrates abilities of those with of those with disabilities
by Meghan Morelli, Up North Live 11/6/13 View article
A bullet to the spine not stopping Flint man's dream of becoming a business owner
by Jeremy Allen, MLive 10/3/13 View article
Michigan man stays positive after shooting at Lansing party, doesn't care if shooter is found
by Mark Santia, Local 4 Defenders 5/22/12 View Article
Eric Thomas 2010 Spirt of Life Award Bio
D-Man Foundation, 2010 View Article
Eric Thomas of Flint celebrates birthday, life 10 years after Lansing shooting
by Marjory Roymer, MLive 7/11/08 View Article
Are You Running a Business or Changing the World?