Press Release
December 1, 2011
Corona Woman’s Sermon Inspires
Erin Tharp aims to provide wheelchairs to the disadvantaged

Corona, November 23, 2011 – Corona resident Erin Tharp was well on her way to achieving her dream of becoming an astronaut, when she was struck with viral encephalitis that nearly took her life. “At one point things were so grave, she was not expected to live.” said her father, Gary Tharp. But instead of wallowing in what ifs, Erin decided to be a positive role model and continue to follow her dreams.

Presently, Erin is fully aware, but cannot walk or talk. She lives at home with her parents and graduated, while in a wheelchair, from Centennial in 2001. She has set her sights on helping people who need wheelchairs, but live in third world countries. In order to inspire people to help her achieve this goal, she wrote a sermon, “Sitting in God’s Hands”, that was shared with the attendees at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Corona.

The sermon was read by Deacon Karen Chavez, and about 180 people received her message and gave a standing ovation. “It was exciting to read Erin’s sermon, to give her a voice.” Chavez said.

Her mother told us that she wrote the sermon on her laptop and since she is a perfectionist, she edited it several times before the final copy was produced.
Here are some excerpts: “Needing help can feel like shackles sometimes, you don’t know what to do, or how to proceed. When you do get the help that’s needed you feel free.”

She added, “My wheelchair is a gift and with it, I’m sitting in God’s hands. It has allowed me to take family vacations, ‘walk’ with my class at graduation and pick out my canine daughter, “Maggie”. In May 2005 the wheelchair even enabled her to travel to the White House to meet President Bush and his wife Laura.

So now Erin wants to pass along her gratefulness by helping others in need of a wheelchair as well. She found an outlet through Free Wheelchair Mission, and by joining forces with St. John’s they are planning to raise enough money for 100 wheelchairs! Since it only costs $63.94 to produce one wheelchair, they are well on their way to achieving that goal.

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To learn more about Free Wheelchair Mission, please visit, and follow every inspiring journey.

Mike Kenyon, Pastor of Church Development

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