Baywood man in contest for wheelchair-accessible van

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Voting continues through May 9 in national contest, which coincides with National Mobility Awareness Month

By Patrick Smith

BAYWOOD – While several Grayson County residents seek votes for membership on town councils in May, one Grayson County resident will seek votes in a national contest.
Baywood resident Eric Higgins, diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia when he was 13 and since confined to a wheelchair, is competing for one of three custom wheelchair-accessible vans to be awarded in a National Mobility Awareness Month contest.

Voting is open to anyone through May 9 on mobilityawarenessmonth.com and votes can be cast every 24 hours.
Friedreich’s Ataxia affects one in 50,000 people and causes nervous system damage and impairs movement. There is no cure, but Higgins’ disability hasn’t affected his optimistic outlook on life.
“I have learned to accept my disability and to go on with life as best as possible,” Higgins’ says in his bio on the contest website. “I have learned to live with my condition, to be humble and patient and live each day to its fullest.”
His disability also hasn’t prevented him from being highly involved in his community. Higgins was a member of Boy Scout Troop 281 and earned the Eagle Scout award as a teen. He also obtained his associate’s degree in 1997 from Wytheville Community College, and went on to work for the Natural Resources Conservation Service until he was forced to resign in early 2011.
He is also a member of the Baywood Rescue Squad and Moose Lodge #733.
In his spare time he is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys the great Grayson County pastimes of hunting and fishing. He excitedly remembers the first time he killed a wild hog in 2011, and his accomplishment was even published in an article in Bayed Solid magazine in April 2011. He speared his second wild hog that same year.
Higgins was shown great respect in the Baywood community this past year when he was nominated grand marshal and citizen of the year at the Baywood Fall Pumpkin Festival. Higgins was appreciative of the honor, and thanked everyone for voting in the May contest, but downplayed his many accomplishments.
“I appreciate everyone’s votes, [but] I am not really a local hero,” he said. “I am just Eric Higgins, living each day, one day at a time.”

To cast a vote for or to find out more information about Eric Higgins or the contest, visit