A year ago, educator, coach and father Eric Lawson was fighting for his life. His students faced the daunting and singular challenge of getting a high school education in the midst of a global pandemic. The best medicine for both of them turned out to be a surprise visit from the Easter Bunny.
Below is Vicksburg Daily News’ original story covering their heartwarming reunion:
River City Early College’s beloved Leadership teacher recently surprised his students by visiting them as the Easter Bunny on April 1, 2020. Why was this a surprise, you may ask. Two months prior, Eric Lawson got sidelined with what, at first, he thought was COVID-19, but would soon change his life forever.
Lawson was diagnosed with renal failure, meaning his kidneys could no longer clean and filter his blood. He was a football coach, a father, and a high school teacher, so simply taking two ibuprofens twice a day was time-efficient for his busy schedule. NSAIDs like ibuprofen can lead to decreased blood flow to the kidneys, starving them of oxygen. He is now on his journey for a kidney transplant.
I had the privilege to sit down with the man who is looked up to by so many young minds, including myself. Getting to talk to my previous teacher about something so personal and life-threatening made me see him in a different light. Lawson had a way of listening to his students in a way that no other teacher in the district could, and teaching them some important life skills that could make or break a young adult’s success in the battlefield of life. To see him going from a busy, non-stop lifestyle to laying in a hospital bed unable to reach the rest of the world is scary, because it dawned on me the this can happen to anyone, even the best of people.
“When it first happened, it took the greatest toll because I had never been sick, have never been in the hospital, nothing like this had ever happened to me. It was like entering a new world. Like a new section of life that I had no idea about. I have two teenage girls, and it’s just us at home so it’s like one day you’re there and the next day you’re gone.”
Lawson was bed ridden for nine days, incoherent and unable to do much more than sit and think about life. “I started to think about what I was missing, things that I’ve done. I felt like I was letting my kids down by abruptly leaving.”
He overcame the physical challenges and retaught himself how to walk with physical therapy. Lawson needed to get back to his life, and ironically, he did right around Easter. He was nervous because he had just learned to walk again. What if he tripped and fell? How does he react? What are the kids going to say?
“I think coming back to school on Easter weekend in the bunny costume was fitting, because I needed my students like they needed me.”
The outpouring of love our community has given Eric Lawson is extremely beautiful. Please continue to keep him and his family in your thoughts as they go through this process. Stay tuned for updates on Lawson’s journey.