Erica Coulston, 34

Erica Coulston
"Often people view my situation as tragic, but the last decade has been a continuing process of growth, both physically and personally. I want people to believe they can craft their own destiny. The mind is a powerful thing and with determination you create opportunities where others see misfortune."


Background:
Erica Coulston is Co-Founder and President of Walk The Line to SCI Recovery, Inc. in Southfield, an innovative and individualized exercise and physical therapy-based spinal cord injury recovery program utilizing the newest emerging techniques and research from around the globe.
 
In 2001, Erica (then 23) sustained a C6/7 spinal cord injury, which left her paralyzed from the chest down with limited use of her arms and hands. Since her injury, Erica has pursued her physical recovery through intense physical therapy programs in the United States and abroad. She was the first American recipient of an adult stem cell transplant in Portugal in 2003. After five years of attending other programs and achieving limited physical success, Erica co-founded Walk The Line to SCI Recovery in July, 2007 to assist individuals with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries aggressively pursue recovery from their injuries. Over the past five years, Walk The Line has become recognized as a world leader for recovery therapies. Erica's belief in the human spirit and her own perseverance fuel her mission and drive to be the best recovery facility in the world.
 
Erica has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University in Political Science. Prior to her injury, she was Community Outreach Director for California Peace Action in Los Angeles, CA. She currently resides in Bloomfield Hills with her husband Ira and faithful dog, Louie.
 
Current Position: Erica's daily responsibilities include operational oversight of Walk The Line's Therapy Management Team, program quality, client scheduling, hiring and training of the Physical Therapy staff, new client interviews and PR / marketing strategies. She is also a client at Walk The Line to SCI Recovery. 
 
Charity/Oakland County Involvement: In 2005, she received the Pioneer Award from The Pioneers for Peace for her work in the SCI community. Erica is also a Trustee of the Don't Just Sit There Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with spinal cord injuries resulting from violence. Since 2004, the Don't Just Sit There Foundation has raised over $250,000 to help individuals have access to therapy services as well as obtaining donated medical equipment for those in need. Erica was recently nominated to join the Board of Directors for The Coalition Protecting Auto No Fault (CPAN). In 2012, Walk The Line was a proud recipient of Oakland County's Casual Friday Fund. In addition, Erica received The Spirit Award from the D-Man Foundation for her active role in promoting recovery and advocacy work and was featured on the November cover of Metro You magazine. She has also established and facilitates a monthly peer group for individuals with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

Why Vote for Erica?  For as long as I can remember I've wanted to dedicate my life to helping people. I graduated from college in 2000 and started working at a non-profit organization. In 2001, at the age of 23, I was paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident. My life was turned upside down. I would learn that an irrepressible force existed inside of me that had been dormant until the moment when I was tested beyond what I thought I could handle and then, at my breaking point, I picked myself up. In doing so, I helped others in similar situations pick themselves up as well.
My injury and the experiences afterwards challenged me to find a way to fix the problems that I encountered while working towards my recovery from a spinal cord injury (SCI). In 2007, I co-founded Walk The Line to SCI Recovery, now located in Southfield.
In five years, Walk The Line has become a thriving recovery therapy clinic attracting clients from Michigan, across the United States and abroad. We are recognized around the world as the leader in SCI recovery therapy.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share my journey and represent the 2013 class of Brooks' Top 40 Under 40.

The information presented here was accurate as of January 2013.
 
Erica's Portrait Photography by Mark Preston