Elim Graduate Helping Make Dreams Come True

September 20, 2013

Eric Marquardt graduated from Elim’s school program almost 10 years ago, and his family has kept in touch ever since. Eric has grauated from Lincoln College in Bloomington Normal, Illinois (as of December, 2012), and completed an internship at Walt Disney World that fulfilled a dream he had to work there. Today, Eric Is employed at one of the Disney World parks and lives in the Orlando area.

We asked Eric to give us an update, and we hope you’ll enjoy his answers below. He’s achieved his dreams in part because of Elim, but even moreso, because of you.

When did you graduate from Elim?
June 2004

How long did you attend Elim?

How was Elim different from other schools you attended?
I got more 1-on-1 help. Elim got me my first job. I had wonderful teachers and an aide who has stuck by my side (friendship) since day one of school. Ms. Sandy Niedospial was a great friend, aide, guide, coach, and counselor to me all these years. She has been really helpful.

How did Elim prepare you for life after school?
Mr. [Tim] Griffin* and Mr. [Pete] Post** prepared me for tests to get into college. [Eric graduated from college] They believed in me.

You work at Disney now – was that something you always wanted to do?
Ever since I was a baby sick on life support I had that dream to go to Disney. And, when my mother put the Mickey ears on me at 3 years old, I knew God had a plan for me. I have gone through many obstacles to get here. I had to prove the doubters wrong. Just like the 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup Champs Chicago Blackhawks, and a famous line from The Blues Brothers. I was on a "mission from God."

How did you get from Elim to Disney?
It all started in 2004. My aunt had just died of pancreatic cancer. We were all very sad to see her go. But I think that was a sign. When I was at Junior College for the fall 2004 semester, Walt Disney World College Program (now Disney Theme Parks Internship Program) came to the college. They were recruiting for the Spring 2005 program. I applied. I got accepted two weeks later. My parents then said, "Now what?" They thought I was only going to last like two months.

Today, I work at Disney Hollywood Studios in main issue floor and character room. I get to work with Princess Sofia, Handy Manny, and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Special Agent Oso. I love my job. It's awesome.

We’re so pleased to share this update with you, to help you see the impact that you’ve had on Eric. If you’d like to have that same kind of impact again today, please make a gift through our website by clicking here or by contacting us to mail in a gift.

* Tim Griffin is now the Assistant Principal for the Crossroads Transition Program.
** Pete Post is now a Professor of Special Education ot Trinity Christian College.

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